About David Travis

David Travis is the retired Curator of Photography at the Art Institute of Chicago where he directed photography exhibitions, programs, and acquisitions from 1972 until 2008.

He was the founding curator of the Department of Photography in 1975, and directed and designed the major state-of-the art renovation of the galleries, study room, laboratory, and vaults in 1982.

A specialist in the modernist period, he has organized a number of significant shows and contributed scholarly essays to their catalogues, including Starting With Atget: Photographs from the Julien Levy Collection (1977), Photography Rediscovered: American Photographs 1900–1930 (1979), André Kertész: Of Paris and New York (1985), On the Art of Fixing a Shadow: One Hundred and Fifty Years of Photography (1989), Edward Weston: The Last Years in Carmel (2001), Taken By Design: Photography from the Institute of Design 1937–1971 (2002), Yousuf Karsh: Regarding Heroes (2008), and Karsh: Beyond the Camera (2012).

Although he has organized and presented over 125 exhibitions of photography at the Art Institute of Chicago, he has also been active as a guest curator. His exhibitions have been shown at the National Gallery of Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the National Gallery of Art in Osaka, and for the Patrimoine photographique of the French Ministry of Culture, which inducted him as a Chevalier de l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres in 1987. In December of 2002, he was named a “Chicagoan of the Year” by the Chicago Tribune Arts critics. A book of his lectures and essays was issued in 2003 by David R. Godine Publisher under the title At the Edge of the Light: Thoughts on Photographers and Photography, on Talent and Genius.