Skip to content Skip to navigation

Jonathan Calm

Jonathan Calm

Assistant Professor
Art Practice


A native New Yorker, Jonathan Calm is a visual artist in the media of photography and video whose work combines as well as challenges the aesthetic and ideological tenets of architecture, documentary journalism and sculpture. A central theme of his work is the relationship between photography and urban architecture, and the powerful role of images in the way architectural constructs shape the lives of individuals and communities.

The proliferation of photographic imagery online and the sharing of pictures and footage through social media at ever increasing rates have arguably made photography the most important medium of our time, with a creative potential to foster, build and strengthen communal ties. Calm channels and develops his research into an aesthetic vision that features reflective (contemplation- and analysis-based) and interventionist, activist aspects. He explores how technologies of representation determine the cityscape, and uses these technologies to produce images that contribute to the implementation of a more functional, integrated urbanism.

Over recent years, Calm has primarily explored the socio-cultural, historical and geopolitical imprint of public housing on both sides of the Atlantic, tracing the onslaught of the American 'project' back to its European Modernist roots across a palimpsest of visionary theoretical predicates and harsh urban realities, with an eye toward ever more critical reinvention of communal city life. His 'Legacy' series (2010) was inspired by a 2008 research trip - funded by an Art Matters grant - to visit and document local housing complexes in Marseille, and to photograph houses by the great Modernist architects (Le Corbusier, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, Walter Gropius) whose work spearheaded the utopian conception and development of public housing.

Calm's art practice is international in scope and has been featured in numerous solo and group exhibitions, including 'Frequency' at the Studio Museum in Harlem (2005); 'Role Play' at the Tate Britain (2006); 'Black Is, Black Ain’t' at the University of Chicago’s Renaissance Society (2008); 'Streetwise' at the Reina Sophia Museum in Madrid (2008) and the Chelsea Art Museum (2011); 'deCordova Biennial’ at the deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum (2013); and 'Rooted Movements' at LMAKprojects in New York City (2014). Numerous publications, among which The New York Times, Art in America, The New Yorker, The Village Voice, Artforum and The Washington Post, have given significant mention to his work.


March 8, 2018

Registration is not required. This program is free and open to the public.

Cantor Arts Center, Auditorium


October 1, 2019 to December 7, 2019
Stanford Art Gallery
August 1, 2019 to August 30, 2019
Coulter Art Gallery
June 6, 2019 to June 17, 2019
Gunn Foyer, McMurtry Building
July 24, 2018 to August 26, 2018
June 8, 2018 to June 22, 2018
Gunn Foyer & Vitrine Gallery
January 23, 2018 to March 18, 2018
May 1, 2017 to May 8, 2017
Mohr Student Gallery
February 7, 2017 to March 24, 2017
October 4, 2016 to December 4, 2016
Thomas Welton Stanford Art Gallery
January 11, 2016 to February 28, 2016
Coulter Art Gallery

Related News

Oct 8 2019 | KQED
When African-American travelers wanted to drive across the U.S. in the Jim Crow era, they consulted a guidebook specially made and marketed to the growing Black middle class...