Jan Staller ’70
Over Jan Staller’s 40-year career, his photographs of urban landscapes have been exhibited at MoMA, the Whitney Museum of American Art, the New Museum, the Museum of the City of New York, the High Museum of Art, and the Art Institute of Chicago.
Jan finds adventure and otherworldliness in the neglected frontier outside the New York City metropolis.
“It is to these areas that I have long been drawn, lingering there to meditate on a quality of light, space, and weather. In the decay and desertion of these run-down places, there is much for me to explore, and I find the atmosphere to be rich in mystery, reminiscent of a lost city.”
Jan has worked on assignment for the New York Times, Forbes Magazine, Atlantic Records, Boston Globe, Conde Nast Traveler Magazine, Time, Life, People, and more than 50 other publications worldwide. Jan shares his artist’s view of human-altered land through lectures at museums and educational institutions around the world.
Jan has had a long-standing involvement with architecture and industrial design. Over the years, he has built and lived in two distinctly different Manhattan homes of his own design. With largely self-taught machinist techniques, Jan has conceived and fabricated a range of objects including unique lighting, furniture, and jewelry.
In 1995, fellow Simon’s Rock alums and independent filmmakers Joel and Ethan Coen hired Jan to shoot stark winter landscape stills for the quirky and critically acclaimed film Fargo. Jan has also created his own abstract short films, Saved and Cycle, on exhibit at the Amon Carter Museum of American Art in Fort Worth, Texas.
At Simon’s Rock, Jan honed his photography skills by taking photos of fellow students, the campus, and Great Barrington. “I was doing a fair bit of photography at the time.”
Jan’s interest in construction imagery began early. After receiving his associate’s degree, he returned to campus to help a local contractor build the Mods, a unique apartment-style residence. Here, he conceived his earliest notions of photographing architecture and industrial design. Jan’s later photographs of wood framing were influenced by the materials he used while helping build the Mods. “So much of my work is about the ephemeral. It’s just some operation that has a function to a particular end.”
“My appreciation for being outdoors was certainly a part of my life here, and being outdoors is a meditative experience, at best. That was something that I sought out in the urban landscape.”
Simon’s Rock is college now for motivated younger students ready to realize their intellectual and creative potential.