Born 1951, Hartford, Connecticut; lives in Los Angeles, California.
James Welling began his undergraduate degree at Carnegie-Melon University. He studied fine arts from 1969 to 1971, until he transferred to the newly formed California Institute of the Arts where he narrowed his focus down to video art. Welling received both his Bachelors and Masters degrees in Fine Arts from CalArts. While completing his studies, he worked alongside John Baldessari, whom he notes as one of his greatest influences.
In 1975, with no formal photographical training, Welling began experimenting with polaroid cameras. Within a year he set up a darkroom in his home and began teaching himself the process of printing and developing film. In 1978, Welling moved to New York City where he embarked on his first abstract series, photographing obscure objects. By 1984 he was awarded a grant in photography by the New York Foundation for the Arts.
Welling’s career has been marked by continuous experimentation. He challenges the technical and conceptual bounds of photography, making use of simple yet innovative tools and media. He has adopted an experimental practice, which has led to the production of abstract compositions seen in his photographs, photograms, Polaroids, and digitally processed prints.
James Welling’s work has been exhibited in many museums, both in the United States and internationally. In 2008 he participated in the Whitney Biennial at the Whitney Museum of American Art, and in 2009 his work was featured at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.