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Carter, Montana, 1971.jpg

Grain Elevators, Carter, Montana, 1971

David Plowden: The Architecture of Agriculture

April 21 - August 20, 2023

Grohmann Museum

MSOE, 1000 North Broadway, Milwaukee, WI 53202

The Grohmann Museum once again showcases the photography of David Plowden in honor of the artist's 90th birthday. But instead of Plowden's trademark work featuring railroads, bridges and heavy industry, this exhibition looks at the feed mills, grain elevators, barns and the human impact on the landscape of the Midwest and the Great Plains.

Over 50 years of photography is distilled in this collection of vanishing views of America's past. As with much of Plowden's work, many of the scenes captured are no more, existing only on film, in memory or in scattered remains across the rural countryside.

Gallery Night Grand Opening: April 21, 5-9 p.m.

Featuring a gallery talk with the artist: 6:30 p.m.

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Sciotoville Bridge, Ohio River, Sciotovi

Sciotoville Bridge, Ohio River, Sciotoville, Ohio, 1968. Copyright © 1968 by David Plowden

David Plowden: Bridges

June 22 - September 23, 2019

Brattleboro Museum & Art Center 

"Much of Plowden’s work has been done in the service of the 29 books he has authored or co-authored. The photographs in this exhibit represent a small fraction of those in Bridges: The Spans of North America, a visually magnificent history of American bridge design and construction, which McCullough has described as “a work of imagination and scholarship that would qualify [Plowden] as someone of note had he done nothing else.” 

Bridges intrigue and entrance us on so many levels. They extend our worlds by spanning voids or obstacles and connecting us to otherwise unreachable destinations. They do so in seeming defiance of the laws of gravity, creating magical, liminal spaces, where we find ourselves no longer here, not yet there, but suddenly — thrillingly — aloft. The best of them embody a perfect blend of engineering and aesthetics, function and form. In character, they span the gamut from elegant to businesslike, delicate to muscular, commonplace to quirky."

— Danny Lichtenfeld, Director. Brattleboro Museum website

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EL 1167 191 WALTER KOWLASKI AND fireman,

Walter Kowlaski, Stoker, Ferryboat Elmira, Erie Lackawanna Railroad, Hoboken Ferry, 1967. Copyright © 1967 by David Plowden

David Plowden's Portraits of Work


September 7 – December 30, 2018

Grohmann Museum, Milwaukee, WI

Gallery Night Event: Oct. 19 - 5 to 9 p.m.

Featuring a Talk with the Artist at 7 p.m.

No single book or exhibition by David Plowden has focused exclusively on his portraits of workers, until now.  


"In close collaboration with the artist, the finest examples of these portraits have been selected for this special display of work. This exhibition features dozens of portraits of workers at their vocation. Included are subjects from a number of occupations, including farmers, mechanics, engineers, salespeople, shopkeepers and ship captains, to name a few. Visually appealing and psychologically engaging, patrons are sure to reflect on their own pursuits and those of their friends, family and neighbors while viewing David Plowden’s Portraits of Work.”

Grohmann Museum website

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Jackson Township, Webster County, Iowa, 2011. Copyright © 2011 by David Plowden

Eye on the West: Photography and the Contemporary West


September 1 – December 16, 2018

A group exhibition at the Beinecke Library

Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut


"The North American West has been inhabited for millennia, but our vision of its history and cultures has been shaped, perhaps disproportionally, by the modern invention of photography. Eye on the West showcases photographs made since 1960 and encourages viewers to consider the continuing relationship between the region and the medium, to think about the ways that photographers influence our understanding of the contemporary West, its people and its places."

—  Beinecke Library website

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Wheat Harvest, Faluk County, South Dakota, 1971. Copyright © 1971 by David Plowden

David Plowden’s High Plains: Sixty Years of Photographs

On view at the Brinton Museum, Big Horn, Wyoming

May 7 – June 25, 2017

The Brinton Museum presents David Plowden’s High Plains: Sixty Years of Photographs, an exhibit of black-and-white documentary photographs of small town main streets, churches, grain elevators, steam trains, sweeping panoramas of farmland and endless skies, and the ‘salt of the earth’ inhabitants of America’s High Plains. The Brinton Museum’s David Plowden exhibit is guest curated by Keith F. Davis, Senior Curator of Photography at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City (MO). The Brinton’s show includes 58 images from a generous gift of 110 photographs recently given to the museum by the artist.

David Plowden’s artistry captures on film what we inhabitants of this country take for granted. His presentation initiates a deeper visual attention to what we see right out our back door.


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Charging Open Hearth Furnace, Steel Mill, East Chicago, Indiana, 1979. Copyright © 1979 by David Plowden

Steel: The Cycle of Industry by David Plowden

On view at the Grohmann Museum, Milwaukee, Wisconsin

January 20 – June 5, 2017

David Plowden states that “the architecture of steelmaking is like no other. Nowhere can you find this massiveness, drama, spectacle and danger but in a steel mill.” Between 1962 and 1985, Plowden sought to capture the majesty of the steel industry while at the same time documenting the demise of the industry as we knew it.

This exhibition allows for a re-examination of Plowden’s steel portfolio, including many photos printed specifically for this purpose. Featuring more than 100 of his finest photographs, Steel places the viewer at the point where shovel meets dirt in the mining process and ends in the same soil surrounding these long-abandoned mills.

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The Tunkhannock Viaduct, Nicholson, PA, 1973. Copyright © 1973 by David Plowden

Bridges: The Spans of North America

On view at the Grohmann Museum, Milwaukee, Wisconsin

January 18 – April 28, 2013

“ Following the widely-acclaimed exhibition of David Plowden's railroad photographs—Requiem for Steam, 2011—the artist returns to present images from his years of work photographing dozens of bridges across the American landscape as part of a Guggenheim fellowship. Many of these engineering marvels no longer exist but in the imagination and in these captivating works. In Plowden's words, “ there is no more overt, powerful, or rational expression of accomplishment—of man's ability to build.” This exhibition is a tribute to the artist and those expressions of accomplishment.​”

Visit the Exhibition Archive  page for a list of exhibitions from 2012-1965

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