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Van Deren Coke collection

Identifier: AG 140

Scope and Contents

The Van Deren Coke collection is made up of one series housed in six folders within one box. Included in the collection are gallery announcements and other exhibition ephemera related to Coke’s photographs, publications containing the writing of Coke, and photocopies of letters from Minor White and Ansel Adams. Also in the series is a copy of a publication accompanying “Three Generations of Hispanic Photographers Working in New Mexico,” curated by Coke, as well as a photocopy of chapter 4 of A Collective Endeavor: the first fifty years of George Eastman House, published in 1999; Coke’s comments on the publication are written on the first page of the copy.


  • 1966-1999


Language of Materials

Material in English

Conditions Governing Access

To access materials from this collection, please contact

Conditions Governing Use

It is the responsibility of the user to obtain permission from the copyright owner (which could be the institution, the creator of the record, the author or his/her transferees, heirs, legates or literary executors) prior to any copyright-protected uses of the collection.

The user agrees to indemnify, defend, and hold harmless the Arizona Board of Regents, the University of Arizona, Center of Creative Photography, including its officers, employees, and agents, from and against all claims made relating to copyright or other intellectual property infringement

Biographical Note

Van Deren Coke (1921-2004) was a photographer, curator, and art historian. He was born in July 1921 in Lexington, Kentucky and studied history and art history at the University of Kentucky. Coke studied photography in New York at the Clarence H. White School of Photography and furthered his photographic education under Ansel Adams in the 1950s. In 1958 he received his MA in art history and MFA in sculpture from Indiana University, later pursuing a doctorate in art history at Harvard. Coke taught as an assistant professor at the University of Florida, as an associate professor at Arizona State University, and as a professor of art at the University of New Mexico.

While at UNM Coke served as founding director of the University of New Mexico Art Museum, to which he donated more than 1,200 objects from his own collection. Coke served as deputy director and director of the George Eastman House in Rochester, NY beginning in 1970, and worked as curator of photography at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art from 1979-1987. His own photographic practices mirrored those of the Surrealists; he used 19th-century negatives along with his own manipulated prints to create elements of graphic design in his work. Coke also used methods including solarization, montage, and printmaking to create photographs and was a proponent for experimental approaches to photography. He died in New Mexico in July 2004.


0.5 Linear Feet

Metadata Rights Declarations

  • License: This record is made available under an Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International Creative Commons license.


Publications and ephemera, 1966-1999, related to the career of Van Deren Coke (1921- 2004), photographer, curator, and educator. This collection is active.


The Collection is arranged into the following series:

  1. Series 1: Biographical materials, n.d., 1966-1999, 1 box

Immediate Source of Acquisition

This collection began as a gift from Van Deren Coke in 1992.


  • Saxon, Wolfgang. Van Deren Coke, 83, Dies; Curator and Photographer. The New York Times, The New York Times Company, 27 July 2004, Section B, page 7, Accessed 14 September 2020.
  • Thurber, Jon. Van Deren Coke, 83; Advocate of Experimental Photography. Los Angeles Times, Los Angeles Times, 26 July 2004, Accessed 14 September 2020.

Processing Information

Finding aid updated by Meghan Jordan in May 2016 and by Tai Huesgen in September 2020.

Van Deren Coke collection 1966-1999
Finding aid created by CCP Archives Staff
© 2020
Description rules
Finding Aid Based On Dacs (Describing Archives: A Content Standard)
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid encoded in English

Repository Details

Part of the Center for Creative Photography Archives Repository

1030 N. Olive RD
Tucson Arizona 85721 United States