Skip to main content

Oliver Gagliani papers

Identifier: AG 240

Scope and Contents

Series one, biographical materials, contains biographical information, interviews, resumes, and an obituary.

Series two, correspondence, includes mostly business correspondence and some personal correspondence, dating between the 1950s and early 2000s. Exhibition files also contain correspondence.

Series three, activity files, contains grants, notebooks, writings, portfolios, ephemera, financial records, and other miscellaneous materials relating to his photographic career.

Series four, exhibition files, correspondence, brochures, announcements, reviews, loan agreements, shipping lists from exhibitions throughout his career. Also included is a mounted (from an exhibition?) statement on Gagliani’s work by Van Deren Coke.

Series five, publications, contains publications about and by Gagliani as well as reviews and correspondence.

Series six, photographic materials, includes development logs, technical files, negatives, contact sheets, transparencies, Polaroids, and prints.


  • circa 1940s-2000s


Language of Materials

Material in English

Conditions Governing Access

To access materials from this collection, please contact

Conditions Governing Use

© Heirs of Oliver Gagliani

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

Oliver Lewis Gagliani (1917-2002) was a San Francisco area fine art photographer and teacher, known for his technical mastery of large format black and white, although he worked in color later in life. His work consists of landscapes, portraits and abstracted close-up details that convey mood and feeling. Paul Strand, Ansel Adams and Minor White influenced his work.

Born in Placerville, California, February 11, 1917, his family moved to South San Francisco in 1919, where he attended school 1928–1937. He studied music in college during the 1940s in San Francisco. As a young man he studied violin for almost ten years, intending to become a professional musician. While serving in the U.S. Army from 1942-1945 he made his first photograph. A hearing loss sustained during the war prevented him from continuing a music career. After his discharge and return to San Francisco in 1946, he viewed a Paul Strand show and was inspired to turn his artistic talent to photography.

In 1948 he married Laura Frugoli and began working as an independent photographer. In 1949 he became ill with tuberculosis and spent periods of time in a sanitarium until 1958. During the early 1950s he attended engineering college in San Francisco and worked as a draftsman, while continuing to photograph. He co-founded the cooperative Bay Street Photographers Gallery in San Francisco, in 1954. In 1955 he was the first photographer to produce color prints from Kodak’s then proprietary Type C Process, for which he had to design his own enlarger head. In the early 1960s he began teaching at various workshops and colleges. In the late 1960s, he and a group of San Francisco Bay Area artists founded the Visual Dialogue Foundation, a group which was an important influence on the direction of fine art photography on the West Coast. In 1971 he earned an MFA from the California College of Arts and Crafts. He was awarded an NEA grant in 1976 and a Fisher Grant from the University of Arizona. From 1978 through the mid-1990s, he took three month work and travel trips to Italy and Sardinia. He was a popular teacher who conducted annual Oliver Gagliani Zone System and Fine Print Photography Workshops in Virginia City, Nevada from 1973 to 1995, teaching his interpretation of Ansel Adams’ Zone System. In 1981 he married Gayle Anderson. During the 1980s he began experimenting with whole roll, double exposed images which he titled “strip images.”

Gagliani had numerous one-person and group shows in the United States and Italy. His work is in the permanent collections of major museums in the United States. He died November 20, 2002, at age 85 in Burlingame, California.


61.5 Linear Feet

Metadata Rights Declarations

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


Materials related to professional photography career and teaching of Oliver Gagliani (1917-2002), San Francisco area photographer and educator. The majority of the collection is photographic materials. The collection contains thousands of negatives in various formats and hundreds of work prints both in black and white and color. Papers are not personal, but related to his career. Fine art prints are housed separately. Collection contains photographic negatives, prints, and papers from the 1940s to 1990s, with the bulk dating from the 1950s–2000s and consists of b&w and color negatives in a variety of film formats, color positives, Polaroids, contact sheets, b&w prints and color prints. The papers include a small amount of personal and business correspondence, but consist chiefly of biographical material, interviews, and reviews, as well as zone system development logs, exposure testing aids, teaching materials and publications. Hundreds of Gagliani’s master prints are held in the Center’s fine art print collection.


The Collection is arranged into the following series:

  1. Series 1: Biographical Materials, 1 box
  2. Series 2: Correspondence, circa 1950s-2000s, 1 box
  3. Series 3: Activity Files, 2 boxes
  4. Series 4: Exhibition Files, 1 box
  5. Series 5: Publications, 2 boxes
  6. Series 6: Photographic Materials, 94 boxes

Custodial History

Gift of the Gagliani family in 2012.

Related Materials

Gagliani fine print photographs are held in the Center’s Fine Print Collection.

Processing Information

This collection was processed by Ann Richwine in 2013. The finding aid was updated by Alexis Peregoy in 2016. Collection was worked on by Tai Huesgen in 2019, and the finding aid has been updated to reflect the changes.

Oliver Gagliani papers, 1940s-2000s
Finding aid created by CCP Archives Staff
© 2019
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