New Mexico Museum of Art

Shiprock and Mont St. Michel: Photographs by William Clift

February 26, 2013


The New Mexico Museum of Art is pleased to present this one-man exhibition by master photographer William Clift, a long-time Santa Fe resident. The exhibition opens April 19 and runs through September 8, 2013.

For almost four decades, Clift has photographed two monolithic sites that dominate their expansive landscapes: Shiprock, an eroded volcanic form that rises above the northwestern New Mexico desert and is sacred to the Navajo (Diné), and Mont St. Michel, a tidal island off the north coast of France that is famous for its Romanesque-Gothic church and monastery. In this selection of more than seventy beautiful photographs, Clift shares his ongoing, nuanced exploration of the two places.

“These are pictures of tremendous sensitivity and resonance,” said Katherine Ware, Curator of Photography at the museum. “The artist’s devoted pursuit of these two subjects from 1973 to the present demonstrates the kind of seeing that is possible with sustained concentration. It’s very different from how most photographers work today.”

The artist has long been recognized for his photographs of the New Mexico landscape but his work defies easy categorization. Born in Boston in 1944, Clift began making photographs at the age of ten with an early interest in Polaroid image making. As a teenager, he took a photography workshop with Paul Caponigro and was soon affiliated with many of the established practitioners of the medium. He moved to New Mexico in 1971, where he and his wife raised a family, and has earned a reputation as a thoughtful photographer and a meticulous printer. He is represented in the museum’s collection by twenty-four prints from across his career.

Regarding the exhibition, Ware said, “These photographs aren’t meant to catalog or document Shiprock and Mont St. Michel but are about the experience of being there. They capture the beauty as well as the danger of these archetypal sites in an evocative manner. The artist doesn’t add it all up for us -- what animates them is how we experience them as individual viewers.”

The exhibition is accompanied by a book with more than 130 reproductions of the artist’s Shiprock and Mont St. Michel pictures. Copies are available for purchase from William Clift’s website.

The traveling exhibition is organized by the Phoenix Art Museum, where it will premiere on January 9, 2013. Shiprock and St. Michel: Photographs by William Clift is presented through the generosity of donors to the New Mexico Museum of Art’s Director’s Leadership Fund and Exhibitions Development Fund.

Media Contacts:

Katherine Ware, Curator of Photography

New Mexico Museum of Art


Steve Cantrell, PR Manager

New Mexico Department of Cultural Affairs





The New Mexico Museum of Art was founded in 1917 as the Art Gallery of the Museum of New Mexico. Housed in a spectacular Pueblo Revival building designed by I. H. and William M. Rapp, it was based on their New Mexico building at the Panama-California Exposition (1915). The museum's architecture inaugurated what has come to be known as "Santa Fe Style." For nearly 100 years, the Museum has celebrated the diversity of the visual arts and the legacy of New Mexico as a cultural crossroads by collecting and exhibiting work by leading artists from New Mexico and elsewhere. This tradition continues today with a wide-array of exhibitions with work from the world’s leading artists. The New Mexico Museum of Art brings the art of New Mexico to the world and the art of the world to New Mexico.


The New Mexico Museum of Art is a division of the New Mexico Department of Cultural Affairs.


Information for the Public 

Location: Santa Fe’s Plaza at 107 West Palace Avenue.

Information:  505-476-5072 or visit

Days/Times: Tuesday through Sunday, 10:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m.  Open Free on Fridays, 5:00-8:00 p.m. Between Memorial Day and Labor Day the Museum is open 7 days a week, including Mondays.

Admission: Adult single-museum admission is $6 for New Mexico residents, $9 for nonresidents; OR $15 for one-day pass to two museums of your choice (Museum of Indian Arts & Culture, Museum of International Folk Art, New Mexico Museum of Art, and New Mexico History Museum/Palace of the Governors) OR $20 four-day pass to the four museums listed above. Youth 16 and under, Foundation Members, and New Mexico Veterans with 50% or more disability always free.

Sundays: New Mexico residents with ID are admitted FREE, Students with ID receive a $1 discount. Wednesdays: New Mexico resident seniors (60+) with ID are free.

Field Trips There is no charge for educational groups attending the museum with their instructor and/or adult chaperones. Contact the Tours office by phone at (505) 476-1140 or (505) 476-1211 to arrange class/group visits to the Museum.




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