Catherine Wagner

Catherine Wagner uses photography to investigate how systems that disseminate information control what we learn and teach. Her images of primary schools, military bases, police academies, trade schools and universities are empty of figures yet reveal traces of society. Her work has been collected in many prominent museums, including MoMA, The Met, Tate Modern, and the Smithsonian.


Catherine Wagner was born in 1953 in San Francisco, California.

She is the recipient of the Artadia Award, the Dorothea Lange Award and the Rome Prize from the American Academy in Rome, among many other accolades. Her visual arts fellowships include grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, the Aaron Siskind Foundation and the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel. 

Wagner’s work is in the permanent collections of: MoMA in New York; The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York; the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York; the Library of Congress in Washington DC; the Smithsonian Institution in Washington DC; Tate Modern in London; the Victoria and Albert Museum in London; the Bibliothèque National de Paris; the Museum Folkwang in Essen; the Museum of Modern Art in Bologna; the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston; LACMA in Los Angeles; SFMOMA in San Francisco; and the De Young Museum in San Francisco.

Wagner’s work is commemorated in several monographs, including: American Classroom; Home and Other Stories; Art & Science: Investigating Matter; Cross Sections; In Situ: Traces of Morandi; and Place, History and the Archive.


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