Wright Morris - The Home Place

Foam will open 2020 with the Netherlands' first-ever retrospective of the celebrated American author Wright Morris (1910-1998).

Morris captured the harsh reality of life in America's rural areas. The first thing that stands out in his work is the absence of people. He photographed still-lifes of everyday objects that exuded an atmosphere of poverty and decline. Morris had an unique approach to show the passage of time in the aftermath of the Great Depression of the 1930s.

He incorporated his photographs in so-called ‘photo-text’ books in which images and writings reinforced each other. The exhibition at Foam centers on his books The Inhabitants (1946), The Home Place (1948) and Of God’s Country and My People (1968). Although relatively unknown and overshadowed by his prize-winning literature, his photographs are on a par with other iconic photographers of the time.

Wright Morris, “Gano” Grain Elevator, Kinsley, Kansas, 1940 © Estate of Wright Morris

Wright Morris was born in Central City, Nebraska in 1910. A week after giving birth to him, his mother passed away. Moving was a recurring theme in Morris’s childhood, being raised by his stepmother. Morris would grow more and more estranged to his father the older he got. In 1930 he moved to California to study at the Pomona College. Morris started photographing during his travels in Europe in 1933. Upon his return, his ambition as a photographer would develop in tandem with those as a novelist. Morris photographed most intensely between 1938 and 1947. At the time, his photo-texts were received with curiosity but failed to sell. On the advice of his publisher, Morris abandoned the format and resorted exclusively to writing. His photographic work, though part of important museum collections and subject to a number of retrospective exhibitions, remained largely unknown.

The exhibition is curated in collaboration with Agnès Sire and produced by the Fondation Henri Cartier-Bresson, Paris.

This exhibition is made possible through support from the Terra Foundation for American Art.


Foam is supported by the BankGiro Loterij, De Brauw Blackstone Westbroek, City of Amsterdam, Foam Members, Olympus and the VandenEnde Foundation.

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Wright Morris - The Home Place