Chad Kleitsch

Artist Biography Statements

Chad Kleitsch was born and raised in New Jersey. He earned his B.A. in Photography at Bard College. He has since lectured at Yale University, Sarah Lawrence College and taught at Bard College, The Center for Photography at Woodstock, and La Guardia College. In his 30 year career Kleitsch has photographed many interesting projects, among them abandoned factories in the American Rust Belt, asylums in the American northeast , the pre-restoration documentation of Ellis Island, street photography, an extensive botanicals survey, also an essay on museum installations around the country. Currently he is working on an essay of scanography of rare documents. His work appears frequently in publications and books such as Chronogram, Weird U.S., Bystander: A History of Street Photography,The Mountain Record, and TIMEMagazine and has been reviewed in TheNew York Times, The New Yorker, Time Out, Albany Times Union, and Fortune Magazine.

Please view Copyright Alliance's Podcast video interview

with Chad Kleitsch where he describes his photography and scanography. He talks about how and why he produces his absorbing floral images and the value of taking time to consider overlooked beauty in our increasingly fast-paced, digital world.

Photo of  Chad Kleitsch

Flowers: Black Series

Flowers: White Series

Leaves: White Series


works on paper

I take original documents - letters, found paper, postcards, recipes - and treat them as film by back lighting them during a digital scanning process called "scanography". The images are then printed on archival German ink jet paper at an exhibition size of 40x50 inches. The project utilizes the archives from the New York Public Library. Starting in September 2005, I began scanning works from the original manuscripts archives of The Pforzheimer Collection of Shelly and his Circle as well as The Berg Collection. The first piece I select for scanning was, appropriately, a poem by Byron because William Henry Fox Talbot used a somewhat similar process, in 1840, and made a photogram with a Byron poem. Then onto Mark Twain, Emily Dickinson, e.e. Cummings, Jack Kerouac, John Cage among other great works of literature. Needless to say, there is an incredible amount of exciting material to work with and I envision this as an ongoing series.


The depiction of light in photography has been it’s constant. With the introduction of digital imaging the definitions of traditional photography have blurred and transformed. This work questions the current issues of image process, print medium and the progressively confusing debate between real or “computer generated” images.

These images draw references from classic depictions of light through art history, from a carved sun on Egyptian temple to a Frederic Church sunset or Gerhard Richter’s Candle paintings. This work also makes references to the spectrum of popular mass media such as the contemporary films 2001: A space Odyssey and Close encounters of the Third Kind as well to the generic theatrical light show at a concert or public event.

Images depicting light(s) are often the vessel for many generations to fill with their own conscious and unconscious needs. They stir up several basic human emotions, often asking questions relating to an original source or beginning.

These computer-generated images of light sources ask the same questions but pointed toward the issues of what is photography depicting now in a Photoshop world. Is it real or computer generated- does it matter anymore and is the message of light still the same.

Lost and Found: Ellis Island

A photographic essay on institutional islands around New York City

Have you ever had to go into a lost and found box searching for your lost item? First comes the sudden fear of it being lost. Next there is the frustration about the carelessness that brought you into this situation. Last, there is the anxious hope of perhaps finding it, and all along a deep understanding that it all depends upon the slight chance that someone was kind enough to take the time to return it. Imagine being that lost item, waiting to be found, to be cared for and used again.

These were some of the feelings that I felt as I explored Ellis Island back in 1993-94. I was fortunate enough to be able to explore Ellis under the guidance of National Park Ranger, Kevin Daily. Together we explored the restricted areas of the grounds outside of the museum that are located on the southern part of the island. We made our way room by room. In many of these I would find small personal items left behind. As I moved through the buildings my guide would inform me of the function of each item or perhaps a story that accompanied it.

It was painful to hear of the awful circumstances that tens of thousands of people went through to get into this country. Often people were just sent back or held in isolation wards if they were suspected of illness. People who died on the island often ended up in the Ellis operating theater to be dissected for NYU medical students. Sometimes, even young children ended up in these situations. There are many stories, and I suggest you go to the museum yourself and find your own.

Through these photographs I found some stories that had been lost and brought them out of the dark to where they can be remembered and appreciated. Some of them are painful to see but that is all we are doing is seeing. Imagine being the immigrants who experienced it.


A photographic essay of abandoned 19th century psychiatric hospitals

There are new chain link fences that surround these old mental institutions. But these fences are not there to contain what once lived inside. They are there to protect these lost souls from what is outside.

Located high on a hill overlooking all of Middleton, Connecticut is Connecticut Valley Hospital, one of the first mental institutions constructed in the United States in 1886. The facilities buildings range in age from 40 to 130 years old. Some of the older buildings have been slated for renovation and others for demolition. I was invited to document these places before they were lost.

Before I started this project, I thought it would be a great adventure to explore these old and eerie abandoned mental hospitals. After I had spent several days photographing I began to feel that these places had a lot to teach me. When I am in these places I have learned to quiet my mind, my own idea of what this is, and as clearly and compassionately as possible see what these buildings have to say.

This project has opened my life to a topic that I assumed I understood - mental illness. My re-education lead me to feel and see the legacy of ignorance and presumption that caused further suffering for those seeking refuge from their already difficult lives. These places are a 130 year old statement of how the mentally ill were treated in the past and yet these spaces would not be unfamiliar to a patient today.

White Box

Working in various capacities in art museums over the years, I experienced a side of institutional space that the public rarely sees. The techniques and processes of display are purposely made invisible to the public, heightening the aura of exclusivity that exists in the “white box” of the museum galleries.

In 2001 I began to ask museums for free access with my camera during exhibition changes, initiating a project that has now encompassed over fifteen museums, including Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Museum of Modern Art, The Menil Collection and The Hammer Museum. These photographs reveal the complex relationship between art and the space in which it is presented, lifting a curtain on a provisional environment where institutional hierarchy is missing or turned upside down; where the division between art and the circumstances of its presentation is blurred; and where the installation processes themselves are aestheticized.

In the recent past a number of photographers have been drawn to the spaces that display art as subject matter, including Thomas Struth, Candida Höfer, Sherrie Levine and Louise Lawler. The work of these artists differs from my essay, however, in that the subject matter is either the sociology of the museum environment (Struth and Höfer) or institutional critique (Levine/Lawler). By making the viewer focus on the raw nature of the exhibition process, these photographs defuse the aura that surrounds the rarefied atmosphere of formal display, making us understand that art and the circumstances of its presentation are not mutually exclusive.


Born: 1968, Westwood, NJ Education: Bard College, B.A. Photography, 1991 Lives: Rhinecliff, NY

Solo Exhibitions

Botancial Mind, Eclipse Gallery, North Adams, MA, Aug 2013

Works on Paper, The Camera Club of New York, May 2011

White Box- Photographs of the Unseen Museum,

The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum, Ridgefield, CT Jan. 2010

White Box, Ariel Meyerowitz Gallery, NYC, NY, 2003

Community Access, Puck Building, NYC, NY, 1999

Asylum, E3 Gallery, NYC, NY,1999

Rilke’s Eighth Elegy, Zen Mt. Monastery, Mt.Tremper, NY, 1997

Lost & Found – Ellis Island, Carolyn J. Roy Gallery, NYC, NY, 1994

Mansfield University Art Center, Mansfield, PA, 1994

Group Exhibitions

On Time and Place”: Celebrating Scenic Hudson’s first 50 years, Traveling Show 2013

Works from the Hudson Valley Visual Art Consortium Collections, Samuel Dorsky Museum of Art, New Paltz, NY, August 2011

Warren St., Hudson Opera House, Hudson, NY June 2011

Pissed Elegance, Stephen Cohen Gallery, Los Angeles CA, May. 2011

Photography Now, Juried by Vince Aletti, CPW, Woodstock, NY, April 2011

Still Life in Color, Carrie Haddad Photographs, Oct. 2010

Found, Stephen Cohen Gallery, Los Angeles CA, Sept. 2010

Architectural Photography,Carrie Haddad Photographs Oct. 2009

Of and About Wood, Walter Randel Gallery, May 2009

A Look Inside, Carrie Haddad Photographs, April 2009

Born of the Moment and Method, Walter Randel Gallery, December 2008

Paper, Carrie Haddad Gallery, July 2008

Grace, Peer Gallery, NYC, NY, January 2008

The Set Up, Nicole FiaccoGallery, Hudson NY September 2007

Ex Libris,Lascano Gallery, Great Barrington MA July 2007

Into The Garden, Babylon Fine Arts, Housatonic, MA May 2007

The Regional Triennial of Photographic Arts, CPW, Woodstock, NY, September 2005

Photographing the Museum, Yancy Richardson Gallery, NYC, August, 2005

Adieu - A Farewell Exhibition, Ariel Meyerowitz Gallery, NYC, June 2005

7th Annual Photographic Exhibition, Carrie Haddad Gallery, March 2005

This is not an Archive, CCS Bard Hessel Collection, Bard College, NY, 2005

Still Life & Stilled Lives, Ariel Meyerowitz Gallery, NYC, 2005

Greed Envy Jealousy Fear, Time Space Limited, Hudson, NY, 2004

Haddad Lascano Gallery, Great Barrington, MA, 2004

Wild Flowers, Ariel Meyerowitz Gallery, NYC, 2004

Inaugural Exhibition, Haddad Lascano Gallery, Great Barrington, MA, 2004

6th Annual Photographic Exhibition, Carrie Haddad Gallery, Hudson, 2004

Inside/Outside?, Observations in Nature, Upstate Art, Phoenicia, NY, 2003

Out of the Studio, Dorsky Museum of Art, New Paltz, NY, 2003

The World We Live In,Upstate Art, Phoenicia, NY, 2003

Guns & Wounds, White Box Gallery Annex, NYC, 2003

Hudson Alley Project, Time Space Limited, Hudson, NY, 2002

Interiors & Exteriors, Williamsburg Art & Historical Center, Williamsburg, NY, 2002

Extraordinary Photographers, Carrie Haddad Gallery Hudson, NY, 2002

The Sidewalk Never Ends, Contemporary Street Photography, The Art Institute of Chicago, 2001

Share the Vision, Cooper Union, NY, NY, 2000

Five Photographers, Columbia Green Comm. College, Hudson, NY, 2000

52 Artists We Like, Wall St. Viewing Room, NYC, 2000

Winter Show, Wendy Cooper Gallery, Madison, WI, 2000

LTD, Margaret Bodell Gallery, NYC, 1999

Carrie Haddad Gallery, Hudson, NY, 1999

Third Annual Photo Exhibit, Warren St. Gallery, Hudson, NY, 1994

Photograph the Place, Event & Person, Warren St. Gallery, Hudson, NY, 1993

Photographs By Chad Kleitsch, Merchant & Ivory Foundation, Claremont, NY, 1993

1992 Exhibition Of Photography, Judged by John Szarkowski, Pittsfield, MA, 1992

National Art Exhibition, World Trade Center, NYC, 1992

Wood, Fiber, Steel, Warren St. Gallery, Hudson, NY, 1992

Kanazwa College of Art, International Art Exhibition, Kanazwa, Japan, 1991


Woodstock Center For Photography Fellowship Winner 2010

Center Project Competition Runner Up 2007

Merchant & Ivory Grant, 1993


Woodstock Center for Photography 2006

Yale University, CT, 2002

Columbia Green College, NY, 1999

Sarah Lawrence College, NY 1997

Mansfield University, PA 1994

La Guardia College, NY 1993


Woodstock Center for Photography 2006-08

Bard College NY

La Guardia College, NY 2001

Columbia Green College, NY, 2000


Axinn, Veltrop, & Harkrider, LLP, New York

Samuel Dorsky Museum

Center for Photography Woodstock

Citibank Corporate Photography Collection

Mansfield University

Woodstock Center For Photography