Thomas Joshua Cooper - profile

Thomas Joshua Cooper

United States 1946


Thomas Joshua Cooper
Thomas Joshua Cooper
United States
November 22, 2015

Thomas Joshua Cooper is an American artist, and one of the best contemporary landscape photographers. His photographs are stunning, meditative works, printed with selenium-toned silver gelatin, and centered around issues of landscape, cartography, historical and cultural geography. He also writes poems and haiku books, inspired by nature, just like his works.

Landscape Photography

Thomas Joshua Cooper - High Noon - Blinding Light and Heat - Boulder and the Snake River - Pillar Falls Canyon, Twin Falls County, 2003-2004, South Atlantic north school
Thomas Joshua Cooper – High Noon – Blinding Light and Heat – Boulder and the Snake River – Pillar Falls Canyon, Twin Falls County, 2003-2004


Cooper was born in San Francisco, California in 1946, but lived in Scotland for many years. He is the son of a white American mother and an American Indian father.
He attended Humboldt University in Arcata, California and earned his Bachelor of Arts in Special Studies – Art, Philosophy and Literature in 1969. Later on, he went to University of Mexico in Albuquerque, where he obtained his Master of Arts. In the early seventies, he settled in the United Kingdom. Cooper started working at the Glasgow School of Art in Scotland, where he founded the Department of Photography in 1982. He still works there, as Senior Researcher and Professor of Fine Art.

The photographer is married to Catherine Alice Mooney, with whom he has two children, Laura Indigo Cooper and Sophie Alice Cooper. Thomas spent 90 days visiting unknown and known places in the Antarctic, where he discovered an uncharted island and named it after his wife.

Images from Scotland, 1997-2014

Thomas Joshua Cooper - Mid morning, The source stream of the River Forth, Rising from Loch Chon, Near Inversnaid, Stirlingshire, Scotland, 1997-2014, North point work
Thomas Joshua Cooper – Mid morning, The source stream of the River Forth, Rising from Loch Chon, Near Inversnaid, Stirlingshire, Scotland, 1997-2014
Thomas Joshua Cooper - Diamond Rock, The River Findhorn, The Findhorn Gorge, Morayshire, Scotland, 1997-2014, school is a work of contact
Thomas Joshua Cooper – Diamond Rock, The River Findhorn, The Findhorn Gorge, Morayshire, Scotland, 1997-2014

Works of Thomas Joshua Cooper

In 1969, the photographer began his career on April Fool’s Day. Ever since that day, he has used just one camera, an 1898 wooden field camera. In the very beginning of his career, he decided to only photograph outdoors and to make just one exposure per photo. He traveled to far-reaching and isolated locations around the world, just to create a photograph with his Agfa camera and specially made photographic plates.

Cooper can be compared to artists Richard Long and Hamish Fulton, he is a traveler and a nomad, who makes superb photographs around the globe, often in harsh conditions. He finds the location on a map, tracks it down and takes a photograph, which can involve days, weeks or months of preparation.

In his ongoing Atlas Project, which began in 1989, the photographer has explored and captured landscapes on all five continents that surround the entire Atlantic Ocean, ranging from South Africa to South America. The project aims at developing a dialogue between the worlds – the old and the new. He has documented important geographical and historical points from Scandinavia to Antarctica. He is probably the first person to reach all the extremities of the Atlantic Basin.

Thomas Joshua Cooper – Bridal Falls

Thomas Joshua Cooper - Bridal Falls - Shoshone Falls - The Snake River Basin - The West Bank Rim Top - The West Bank Rim Floor, Jerome County, 2003-2004, North water point out at work
Thomas Joshua Cooper – Bridal Falls – Shoshone Falls – The Snake River Basin – The West Bank Rim Top – The West Bank Rim Floor, Jerome County, 2003-2004


One of the most distinctive and celebrated photographers today was influenced by the works of the f/64 group, active in the 1930s and 1940s. The figures that have inspired him include Ansel Adams, Edward Weston, Paul Strand, Alfred Stieglitz and Robert Frank.


In 1970 he received the John D. Phelen Award in Art and Literature, and in 1978 the National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship in Washington, D.C. In addition, Cooper received a Guggenheim Fellowship in 2009. In 1994, he attained the Major Artist’s Award by Scottish Arts Council in Edinburgh, Scotland, whereas in 1999 he received the Major Artist’s Award by Lannan Foundation in Santa Fe, Mexico. He was also awarded a Creative Scotland Award in 2005. In addition to that, he was named a Royal Scottish Academician.

From Scattered Waters, Sources Streams Rivers Solo Exhibition

Thomas Joshua Cooper - Whirl - the Sea River, 1997-2014, South Atlantic water is a contact of north work
Thomas Joshua Cooper – Whirl – the Sea River, 1997-2014


Cooper’s photographs have been exhibited extensively around the world, in major international venues, such as Esbjerg Museum of Modern Art in Esbjerg, Denmark; Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation in Lisbon, Portugal; The Tate in St Ives, United Kingdom; Cleveland Museum of Art in Cleveland, United States; The Modern Art Museum of Forth Worth, and the Serpentine Gallery in London, United Kingdom, PaceWildenstein in New York, United States; Museo de Arte Contemporanea de Vigo in Spain; the Rubicon Gallery in Dublin, Ireland; Unosunove Arte Contemporanea in Rome, Italy; the Travelling Gallery in Edinburgh, Scotland; Haunch of Venison in the United Kingdom; the Lillie Gallery in Milngavie, Scotland; GMG Gallery in Moscow, Russia; and Bafa Foto in Geneva, Switzerland.


Thomas Joshua Cooper’s works are part of many important collections, in over 50 museums and public collections, such as The Art Institute of Chicago, in Chicago, USA; Denver Museum, Colorado, USA; The Victoria and Albert Museum in London, England; The Arts Council of Great Britain in London, England; Kelvingrove Gallery and Museum in Glasgow, Scotland; La Bibliotheque Nationale in Paris, France; Princeton University Art Museum in Princeton, New Jersey, USA; Museum of Fine Arts in Houston, Texas, USA; The J. Paul Getty Museum, The Sam Wagstaff Collection in Los Angeles, California, USA; Carré d’Art in Nîmes, France; The Tate Gallery in London, England; Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) in Los Angeles, California, USA; Boston Museum, USA; Centro Atlantico de Arte Moderna in Los Palmas de Gran Canaria, Spain; George Eastman House in Rochester, USA; Baltimore Museum of Art in Baltimore, USA; Los Angeles County Museum in Los Angeles, USA; and many others.

The artist is represented by Ingleby Gallery in Edinburgh, Scotland.

Thomas Joshua Cooper lives and works in Glasgow, Scotland.

All images copyright © Ingleby Gallery and the artist

YearExhibition TitleGallery/MuseumSolo/Group
2015Wandering Home: Following the Celtic PerigrinatiGovan Old Parish Church and Glasgow Cathedral, Glasgow, UKSolo
2014Scattered Waters: Sources Streams RiversIngleby Gallery, Edinburgh, UKSolo
2014The Power of the Sea – Making Waves in British Art 1790 – 2014The Royal West of England Academy, Bristol, UKGroup
2014Ship to Shore – Art and the Lure of the SeaJohn Hanard Gallery, Sea City Museum, Southampton, UKGroup
2013MessagesHaunch of Venison, London, UKSolo
2013Once upon a time and a very good time it was…Ingleby Gallery, Edinburgh, UKGroup
2013Hayward Touring group exhibition: Uncommon Ground: Land Art in Britain 1966-79Southampton Art Gallery, Southampton, UKGroup
2012Shoshone FallsSun Valley Art Center, Sun Valley, Idaho, USASolo
2011Mannerism and Modernism: The Casper collection of Drawings and PhotographsThe Morgan Library and Museum, New York, New York, USAGroup
2010TRUE and earlier worksCentro de Arte Naturaleza, Hueca, SpainSolo
2010Framing the West – The Survey Photographs as Timothy H. O’SullivanThe Smithsonian Museum of American Art, Washington D.C., USAGroup
2009TrueHaunch of Venison, London, UKSolo
2009Selections from True: Photographs by Thomas Joshua CooperLannan Foundation, Santa Fe, New MexicoSolo
2009True: Special project of the Third Moscow Biennale of Contemporray ArtGMG Gallery, Moscow, RussiaSolo
2009Manmade: Notions of Landscape from the Lannan CollectionNew Mexico Museum of Art, New Mexico, USAGroup
2009WorldsLillie Art Gallery, Milngavie, Scotland, UKGroup
2009Revisiting Landscape and Still LifeBafa Foto, Geneva, SwitzerlandGroup
2008Point of No ReturnRubicon Gallery, Dublin, Ireland, UKSolo
2008Paraisos IndomitosMuseo de Arte Contemporánea de Vigo, SpainGroup
2008ParisPhotoParis, FranceGroup
2008On EdgeThe Traveling Gallery, Edinburgh, UKGroup
2007Thomas Joshua Cooper & David BellinghamIngleby Gallery, Edinburgh, UKDuo
2007International watersUnosunove Arte Contemporanea, Rome, ItalySolo
2006Ojo de Agua - Eye of the WaterPaceWildenstein, New York, USASolo
2006Del Paisaje recienteMuseo Colecciones ICO, Madrid, SpainGroup
2006Human Nature: Landscape photography from the GoMA collectionGallery of Modern Art, Glasgow, UKGroup
2005End of the WorldCasa das Mudas Centro das Artes, MadeiraSolo
2005Thomas Joshua CooperGalerie Judin, Zürich, SwitzerlandSolo
2005Point of no returnThe Whitworth Art Gallery, Manchester, UKSolo
2005Marine – Paintings of the SeaCrane Kalman Gallery, London, UKGroup
2004Point of No ReturnHaunch of Venison, London, UKSolo
2004Rock, Water, WoodIngleby Gallery, Edinburgh, UKSolo
2004Views from The EdgeThe Drexel Gallery, Philadelphia, USASolo
2004A Mares – Olladas Oceánicas en el arte ContemporáneoMuseo do Mar de Galicia, Vigo, SpainGroup
2003Sojourns, Photographs by Thomas Joshua CooperMarion Centre for Photography at the College of Santa Fe, USASolo
2003Fortunate IslandsSean Kelly Gallery, New York, USASolo
2003Some Rivers, Some Trees, Some Rocks, Some SeasIl Prisma Galleria d'Arte, Cunoe, ItalySolo
2003CoastlineThomas Schulte Galerie, GermanySolo
2003Selections from the Sol Lewitt CollectionBritain Museum of American Art, New Britain, Connecticut, USAGroup
2003From the Collection – American Artists: Thomas Joshua Cooper, Sol Lewitt and Shirin NeshatThe Fruitmarket Gallery, Edinburgh, UKGroup
2003Hot Summer in the CitySean Kelly Gallery, New York, USAGroup
2003Thomas Joshua Cooper – Photographs and Mark Francis – DrawingsGalerie Tomas Schuite, Berlin, GermanyGroup
2002Running to The SeaFundacíon César Manrique, Canary IslandsSolo
2002SettlementBlain's Fine Art, London, UKSolo
2002The Edges of The WorldBowdoin College Museum of Art, Bowdoin College, Brunswick, Maine, USASolo
2002At The Very Edges of The WorldTate St Ives, UKSolo
2002Moving West - Being West. New Photographs from The Atlantic CoastsSean Kelly Gallery, New York, USASolo
2002The Great River: Rio Grande River Crossings - From The Source to the Sea, 1994 –2000James Kelly Contemporary, Santa Fe, USASolo
2000Thomas Joshua CooperGalerie Arnes y Röpke, Madrid, SpainSolo
1999Thomas Joshua CooperAnthony Meier, San Francisco, California, USASolo
1999The Eclipse Pictures, Michael Hue-Williams, James Turrell and Thomas Joshua CooperLondon, UKSolo
1999WaterPatrick de Brock, Knocke, Belgium.Solo
1999Work from The New Found LandSean Kelly, New York, USASolo
1999Where The Rivers FlowEsbjerg Museum of Modern Art, Esbjerg, DenmarkSolo
1999WaterfrontWilliams Fine Art, London, UKSolo
1998River Works – America – ScotlandSean Kelly, New York, USASolo
1998Thomas Joshua Cooper, Robert Adams and Emmet GowinPrinceton University Art Museum, USASolo
1998The World's EdgeGalerie Bugdahn und Kaimer, Dusseldorf, GermanySolo
1998Where The Rivers FlowLeeds City Art Gallery, Leeds, UKSolo
1998Border Lines – The Cinque PortsKeynes Gallery of Art, University of Kent, Canterbury, UKSolo
1998BackwatersCleveland Museum of Art, USASolo
1997Where the Rivers FlowFruitmarket Gallery, UKSolo
1997Border CrossingsKonsthallen – Bohusläns Museum, SwedenSolo
1996Rivers and Ritual - 1975-1995Sean Kelly, New York, USA.Solo
1996The Art GalleryMaine Photographic Workshop, Rockport, Maine, USASolo
1996The River SuiteGalerie Frank und Schulte, Berlin, GermanySolo
1996October Calm - The North SeaPatrick de Brock, Knokke, BelgiumSolo
1994Simply Counting WavesCentre for Modern Art, Gulbenkian Foundation Lisbon, PortugalSolo
1993sea shoreGalerie Stadtpark, Krems, AustriaSolo
1993The Swelling of the SeaJohn Weber Gallery, New York, USASolo
1992Sojourn - Ten YearsCairn Gallery, Nailsworth, Gloucestershire, UKSolo
1991wind – riffling memoriesGallery Fotohof, Salzburg, AustriaSolo
1991Kunst Europe (Britain) - Thomas Joshua Cooper, The Swelling of The SeaHeidelberg Kunstsverein, Heidelberg, GermanySolo
1990Dreaming the GokstadtKunstnerness Hus, Oslo, NorwaySolo
1990The Swelling of the SeaArt Gallery and Museum, European City of Culture Exhibition, Kelvingrove, Glasgow, UKSolo
1990New Works 1986-1988Laure Genillard Gallery, London, UKSolo
1990Works from Three Projects - 1983-1990Janine Mautsch Gallery, Cologne, GermanySolo
1989Dreaming the GokstadtBrandts Klaedefabrik Museum, DenmarkSolo
1989Dreaming the GokstadtSerpentine Gallery, London, UKSolo
1988Thomas Joshua CooperGalerie Hubert Winter, Vienna, AustriaSolo
1988Thomas Joshua CooperJohn Weber Gallery, New York, New York, USASolo
1988Dreaming the GokstadtGraeme Murray Gallery, Edinburgh, UKSolo
1984A Quality of DancingGallery of Art, Humboldt State University, California, USASolo
1983The Guardian Cycle: Photographic WorksGraeme Murray Gallery, Edinburgh, UKSolo
1983Thomas Joshua Cooper: Photographs 1970-1983The Fine Art Museum, University of New Mexico, USASolo
1983Thomas Joshua Cooper: Photographs 1970-1983The Center for Creative Photography, University of Arizona, Tuscon, Arizona, USA.Solo
1983Ghost DanceCoracle Press Gallery, London, UKSolo
1982Thomas Joshua Cooper: Photographs 1970-1982 and Selected InspirationsMackintosh Museum, Glasgow School of Art. Glasgow, UKSolo
1979AtonementsThe Hayward Gallery, London, UKSolo
1979PaysagesThe Bibliotheque Nationale, Paris, FranceSolo
1979A Place In Between, with Robert BensonThe Art Gallery, College of the Redwoods, Eureka, California, USASolo
1979Images of Our MortalityThe Robert Self Gallery, London, UKSolo
1979Focus Gallery, with Paul Hill and Raymond MooreSan Francisco California, USASolo
1979The Friends of Photography Gallery, with Paul HillCarmel, California, USASolo
1975Remnants and Prenotations, with Paul HillArnolfini Gallery, Bristol, UKSolo
1974She RainThe Midland Group Gallery, Nottingham, UKSolo
1974IndicationsThe Photographers' Gallery London, UKSolo
1973Sweet PlayQuivera Gallery. Albuquerque, New Mexico, USASolo
1973The Fields We Know - A Myth of RecollectionUniversity of New Mexico Fine Art Museum, New Mexico, USASolo
1971I See the God in YouThe Art Center, San Luis Obispo, California, USASolo