Remembering Frank DiPerna

Frank DiPerna
July 01, 2020

It is with deep sadness that we share the news of the passing of Frank DiPerna, a beloved Professor of Photography at the Corcoran College of Art + Design (1974-2014) and the Corcoran School at GW (2014-2019). Frank founded the BFA in Fine Art Photography at the Corcoran and was instrumental in fostering its growth and influence. His straightforward and insightful mentoring and teaching shaped several generations of artists, educators, photographers and photojournalists. A stickler for craft and clear intention in his own work and that of his students, his feedback could be tough but always constructive and nurturing. He was legendary for his stories and class handouts, loved good music, a great book, and chocolate. He was fascinated by the weather and songbirds. He approached everything with a sense of humor, justice, and willingness to listen. It seemed he could do anything. It was once remarked to him that he was "...such a badass he is the Springsteen of the Corcoran!" to which he replied, "Really? I am more of a Dylan guy." He loved a good conversation and laugh with a friend – but he lit up most when talking about his wife, Roberta, and daughter, Olivia.


We will miss him dearly and forever. We welcome students, faculty, and friends to share their memories of Frank.


Via the Washington City Paper: Frank DiPerna, a major figure in D.C. photography, died on June 26 following a battle with colon cancer. He was 73. Since 1974, DiPerna had been a professor at the Corcoran College of Art and Design and later at the Corcoran School at George Washington University, shaping several generations of photography students. (He was City Paper staff photographer Darrow Montgomery's professor.) DiPerna’s own works could be experimental and at times groundbreaking, as seen in his 2018 retrospective at the American University Museum. In the 1970s, DiPerna produced pleasantly airy black-and-white images, showing a knack for detecting and recording visual oddities. Then, by the latter part of the decade, he transitioned—earlier than many of his peers—to color, including the small-format Polaroid SX-70. DiPerna’s creative peak may have come with the large-scale landscapes he produced into the early 1990s—elemental, slightly washed out collages of beiges, cocoas, blues, and wispy whites. Later, DiPerna made close-ups of such objects as fake birds and insects, and he photographed surfaces in Italy that mixed Renaissance art with advertising imagery. See his beautiful work on his website.


Read more about Frank DiPerna at the GW Hatchet.


Read Frank DiPerna's obituary at the Washington Post