John Gutmann Photography Fellowship

The prestigious John Gutmann Photography Fellowship was established by the internationally recognized photographer, John Gutmann (1905-1998), who founded the department of photography at San Francisco State University, and is administered by The San Francisco Foundation. Awards of $5,000 to $10,000 are awarded annually to emerging artists in the field of creative photography who exhibit professional accomplishment and serious artistic commitment, along with financial need.



John Gutmann (1905-1998) was a Bay Area photographer of national repute and influence. Born in Breslau, Germany, Gutmann studied painting under the noted expressionist Otto Mueller. Gutmann began his career in Berlin during the early 1930s and emigrated to San Francisco in 1933 when the Nazis banned his exhibitions and forbade him to teach because of his Jewish heritage. For more than 60 years thereafter, he was a recognized presence in the cultural life of San Francisco as a painter, educator, collector, and, most prominently, as an international photographer. He worked for German magazines capturing everyday scenes of American street art, The Great Depression, and the burgeoning automobile culture. He had exhibited in numerous institutions such as the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the M. H. de Young Memorial Museum, the Museum of Modern Art (New York), Cantor Center for Visual Arts at Stanford University, Museum of Contemporary Art (Los Angeles), Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and Musée Cantonal des Beaux-Arts (Lausanne, Switzerland). He also taught at San Francisco State University over a 37 year period until his retirement in 1973. He founded the department of photography in 1946, one of the first on a college campus.

The Gutmann Photography Fellowship is determined by a nomination process. Nominees are selected by jurors who have been appointed by John Gutmann. Only applicants who are nominated will be considered.

There is no application for this award. Unsolicited materials are not accepted.

Nominated photographer must be a U.S. citizen.

The fellowship is limited to photographers, however, the definition as to what constitutes photography will be at the discretion of the jurors.

Students are not eligible. The award funds are to be used as the recipient(s) deem appropriate.

2017 AWARDEE: Christina Seely

Christina Seely is an artist and educator whose photographic practice stretches into the fields of science, design and architecture.She received a BA from Carleton College, and an MFA in Photography from Rhode Island School of Design. Currently she is an Assistant Professor in the Studio Art Department at Dartmouth College in Hanover NH. Her work has been exhibited nationally and internationally and is featured in many public and private collections including; The Museum of Contemporary Photography, The West Collection and The Walker Art Center. She has been an Artist in Residence at the Headlands Center for the Arts and Lightwork, a Fellow at the MacDowell Colony, a participant on the Arctic Circle Program, and a recipient of a year long Public Arts Commission from the city of San Francisco. She received a 2014 Smithsonian Artist Research Fellowship and her first monograph Lux, was co-published in 2015 by Radius Books and the Museum of Contemporary Photography. She is presented by Euqinom Projects, San Francisco.

2017 AWARDEE: Nicholas Muellner

Nicholas Muellner is an artist who operates at the intersection of photography and writing. Through his many published books and writings, solo exhibitions and slide lectures, his projects investigate the limits of photography as a documentary pursuit and as an interface to literary, political and personal narratives. He received a BA in comparative literature from Yale University and an MFA in Photography from Tyler School of Art, Temple University. Muellner is Associate Professor of Photography and Co-Director of the Image Text MFA at Ithaca College and the ITI Press.

2017 AWARDEE: Mimi Plumb

Mimi Plumb, was born in Berkeley, and raised in the suburb of Walnut Creek, California, Her work explores a wide range of subjects, from her suburban roots to the United Farmworkers. Her current project, Local Girls, is a contemporary nod to the girl she was, and the young women and girls she knew, growing up in California. Plumb received her Master of Fine Arts from the San Francisco Art Institute in 1986. She has taught photography nationally and locally, including the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, the San Francisco Art Institute, Stanford University, and San Jose State University. Her photographs are in the collection of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Houston Museum of Fine Art, the Daum Museum of Contemporary Art, and the Yale University Art Gallery.

2017 JURY

Jim Goldberg is Professor Emeritus of Art at the California College of Arts and Crafts and a member of Magnum Photos. He has been exhibiting for over 30 years, and his innovative use of image and text make him a landmark photographer of our times. Goldberg’s current project focuses on migration, refugees, and human trafficking in Europe. Open See (2003-present) is the first volume of an ongoing body of work that will continue to explore the ever-evolving European immigrant community. He is represented by Pace/MacGill Gallery in New York and the Stephen Wirtz Gallery in San Francisco. He has served as a nominator to the Gutmann Photography Fellowship Award since 2007 and as a member of the jury panel since 2009.

Reagan Louie is a Chinese American photographer living in the Bay Area. He is a Professor of Photography at the San Francisco Art Institute where he has taught in both the undergraduate and graduate programs since 1976. Louie’s role as an art educator is complimented by a distinguished career as an artist. He received a B.A. from UCLA and an M.F.A. from Yale University. His photographs have been exhibited and published widely. His work has been shown at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Fotomuseum Winterthur in Zurich, the Gwangju Biennale in South Korea, and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Louie’s photographs are in numerous public collections including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, MOMA New York, and the LA County Museum of Art. He is the recipient of the Guggenheim Fellowship, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Fulbright Fellowship. Louie’s book on China, Toward a Truer Life, was named the best photography book of the year by the New York Times Book Review and his book, Orientalia, was selected as one of the best photography books of the year by American Photography Magazine. His new book, Let A Thousand Flowers Blossom, is forthcoming. Louie has served as a nominator to the Gutmann Photography Fellowship Award since 2008, and as a juror since 2015.

Sandra S. Phillips is Emeritus Curator of Photography at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. Dr. Phillips met John Gutmann upon her arrival in San Francisco in 1987 and curated a retrospective exhibition, John Gutmann:Beyond the Document at SFMOMA in 1989. At SFMOMA, she has been responsible for organizing numerous exhibitions, including the critically acclaimed Diane Arbus. In addition to her curatorial duties, she has authored or coauthored exhibition catalogues and journals and teaches and lectures extensively. She has served on the Gutmann Photography Fellowship Award jury panel since its inception in 2000.

Learn more about our previous awardees, and for more information about the Art Awards Program at The San Francisco Foundation, please contact us at 415.733.8500 or email us.