Aftermath: The Wichita Falls Tornado by Frank Gohlke


Frank Gohlke’s portfolio of 40 black and white photographs, which capture the devastation of the 1979 Wichita Falls Tornado and the landscape a year later, will be on exhibition to mark the anniversary of Terrible Tuesday, April 10, 1979.

Frank Gohlke, 4503 McNeil, looking north, 1979 – 1980, gelatin silver print

On Tuesday, April 10, 1979, just after 6:00 p.m. a massive tornado struck the city of Wichita Falls. Leaving a mile-wide path of devastation through the city’s southwestern edge, the storm caused 46 deaths, injured approximately 3,200 people and destroyed the homes of over 20,000 residents. Property damage was placed at $250 million dollars. Volunteers and public assistance poured in from across the nation. Within two years, 90 percent of the homes lost were rebuilt. This series of photographs titled Aftermath by Frank Gohlke document the devastation of the April 1979 tornado in Wichita Falls and the city as it appears a year later. His work offers a vivid testimony to both the destructive power of the storm and the resilience of the city and its people rebuilding it.

About the Artist:

Frank Gohlke is a leading figure in American landscape photography. He has been awarded two Guggenheim Fellowships and two fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts. Known for his large format landscape photographs, Gohlke’s work has been shown at museums all over the world and included in collections such as the Museum of Modern Art, the International Museum of Photography at the George Eastman House, the Australian National Gallery and the National Gallery of Canada.

Although he was born in Texas, Gohlke’s geographical range includes central France, the American South and Midwest, New England and Mount St. Helens after a volcanic eruption.

Gohlke received his B.A. from the University of Texas at Austin in English Literature. At Yale University, where he received his MA in English in 1966, Gohlke met Walker Evans and then studied privately with Paul Caponigro. Gohlke’s photographs came to notice in the influential 1975 group exhibition New Topographics: Images of a Man-Altered Landscape at the George Eastman House International Museum of Photography and Film in Rochester, New York.

He has taught at Massachusetts College of Art; the Art Institute of Boston at Lesley College; the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; and the universities of Harvard, Princeton and Yale. As of September 2007, he is Laureate Professor of Photography at the University of Arizona and Senior Research Fellow at the Center for Creative Photography, both in Tucson, Arizona.

He is represented in many private and public collections, including the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art and Metropolitan Museum in New York, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Victoria and Albert Museum in London and the Bibliotheque Nationale in Paris.