Untitled, from the Mount Zion Series


John Yang (American, born China, 1933–2009)


1996, printed 2000


Gelatin silver print


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Gift of the John Yang Archive

Accession #


On View

Currently not on view

John Yang received his first camera at age 13 and became enamored with photography. In the summer of 1951 he attended Minor White’s class at the California School of Fine Arts in San Francisco, where he learned to use a view camera and was introduced to Ansel Adams’s Zone System. After graduating from Harvard, Yang obtained a degree in architecture from the University of Pennsylvania. Architecture and photography functioned side by side for Yang for the rest of his life. From 1994 to 1997 he focused on miniature photographic portraits found on the tombstones in Mount Zion, an orthodox Jewish cemetery in Queens, New York. Over time the enamels slowly deteriorate and fade, much like the original subjects they memorialize. Yang’s Mount Zion pictures are hauntingly beautiful reminders both of the cycle of life and of photography’s powerful yet transient role in preserving memory.

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© John Yang Archive