Exhibition: ‘Color! American Photography Transformed’ at the Amon Carter Museum of American Art, Fort Worth, Texas

Exhibition dates: 5th October 2013 – 5th January, 2014


Alex Prager (b.1979) 'Crowd #1 (Stan Douglas)' 2010


Alex Prager (American, b. 1979)
Crowd #1 (Stan Douglas)
Dye coupler print
© Alex Prager, courtesy of the artist and Yancey Richardson Gallery



A very big subject to cover in one exhibition.


Many thankx to the Amon Carter Museum of American Art for allowing me to publish the photographs in the posting. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image.


Jack Delano (1914-1997) 'Chopping cotton on rented land near White Plains, Greene County, Georgia, 1941' 1941


Jack Delano (American, 1914-1997)
Chopping cotton on rented land near White Plains, Greene County, Georgia, 1941
Inkjet print, 2013
Courtesy the Library of Congress


Laura Gilpin (1891-1979) 'Still Life with Peaches' 1912


Laura Gilpin (American, 1891-1979)
Still Life with Peaches
Lumière Autochrome
© 1979 Amon Carter Museum of American Art, Fort Worth, Texas


Jan Groover (1943-2012) 'Untitled' 1978


Jan Groover (American, 1943-2012)
Dye coupler print
© 1978 Jan Groover
Amon Carter Museum of American Art, Fort Worth, Texas


Unknown photographer. 'Untitled (Woman with two daughters)' c. 1850s


Unknown photographer 
Untitled (Woman with two daughters)
c. 1850s
Salted paper print with applied color
Amon Carter Museum of American Art


Gregory Crewdson (b. 1962) 'Untitled (Dylan on the Floor)' from the 'Twilight Series' 1998-2002


Gregory Crewdson (American, b. 1962)
Untitled (Dylan on the Floor) from the Twilight Series
Dye coupler print
© Gregory Crewdson, Courtesy Gagosian Gallery



On October 5, the Amon Carter Museum of American Art opens Color! American Photography Transformed, a compelling examination of how colour has changed the very nature of photography, transforming it into today’s dominant artistic medium. Color! includes more than 70 exceptional photographs by as many photographers and is on view through January 5, 2014.

“Colour is so integral to photography today that it is difficult to remember how new it is or realise how much it has changed the medium,” says John Rohrbach, senior curator of photographs.

The exhibition covers the full history of photography, from 1839, when Frenchman Louis-Jacques-Mandé Daguerre (1787-1851) introduced his daguerreotype process, to the present. From the start, disappointed that photographs could only be made in black and white, photographers and scientists alike sought with great energy to achieve colour. Color! begins with a rare direct-colour photograph made in 1851 by Levi L. Hill (1816-1865), but explains how Hill could neither capture a full range of colour nor replicate his achievement. It then shows finely rendered hand-coloured photographs to share how photographers initially compensated for the lack of colour.

When producing colour photographs became commercially feasible in 1907 in the form of the glass-plate Autochrome, leading artists like Alfred Stieglitz (1864-1946) were initially overjoyed, according to Rohrbach. Color! offers exquisite examples of their work even as it explains their ultimate rejection of the process because it was too difficult to display and especially because they felt it mirrored human sight too closely to be truly creative.

“Although many commercial photographers embraced colour photography over succeeding decades, artists continued to puzzle over the medium,” Rohrbach explains. Color! reveals that many artists from Richard Avedon (1923-2004) to Henry Holmes Smith (1909-1986) tried their hand at making colour photographs through the middle decades of the 20th century, and it shows the wide range of approaches they took to colour. It also shares the background debates among artists and photography critics over how to employ colour and even whether colour photographs could have the emotional force of their black-and-white counterparts.

Only in 1976, when curator John Szarkowski at the Museum of Modern Art in New York heralded the young Memphis photographer William Eggleston’s (b. 1939) snapshot-like colour photographs as the solution to artful colour, did fine art colour photography gain full acceptance.

“Eggleston revealed how colour can simultaneously describe objects and stand apart from those objects as pure hue,” Rohrbach says. “In so doing, he successfully challenged the longstanding conception of photography as a medium that found its calling on close description.”

Color! illustrates through landmark works by Jan Groover (1943-2012), Joel Meyerowitz (b. 1938) and others the blossoming of artists’ use of colour photography that followed in the wake of Szarkowski’s celebration of Eggleston. It also reveals artists’ gradual absorption of the notion that colour could be used flexibly to critique cultural mores and to shape stories. In this new colour world, recording the look of things was important, but it was less important than conveying a message about life. In this important shift, led by artists as diverse as Andres Serrano (b. 1950) and Laurie Simmons (b. 1949), the exhibition explains, photography aligned itself far more closely with painting.

Color! shows how the rise of digital technologies furthered this transformation, as photographers such as Gregory Crewdson (b. 1962), Richard Misrach (b. 1949) and Alex Prager (b. 1979) have explicitly embraced the hues, scale, and even subjects of painting and cinema.

“Photography still gains its power and wide popularity today from its ability to closely reflect the world,” explains Rohrbach, “but Color! reveals how contemporary artists have been using reality not as an end unto itself, but as a jumping off point for exploring the emotional and cultural power of colour, even blurring of line between record and fiction to make their points. These practices, founded on colour, have transformed photography into the dominant art form of today even as they have opened new questions about the very nature of the medium.”

The exhibition will include an interactive photography timeline enabling visitors to contribute to the visual dialogue by sharing their own colour images. The photographs will be displayed along the timeline and on digital screens in the museum during the exhibition to illustrate how quantity, format and colour quality have evolved over time.

“By telling the full story of colour photography’s evolution, the exhibition innovatively uncovers the fundamental change that colour has brought to how photographers think about their medium,” says Andrew J. Walker, museum director. “The story is fascinating and the works are equally captivating. Photography fans and art enthusiasts in general will revel in the opportunity to see works by this country’s great photographers.

Press release from the Amon Carter Museum of American Art website


Patrick Nagatani (b. 1945) and Andree Tracey (b.1948) 'Alamogordo Blues' 1986


Patrick Nagatani (American, b. 1945)
Andree Tracey (American, b. 1948)
Alamogordo Blues
Dye diffusion print
© Patrick Nagatani and Andree Tracey
Center for Creative Photography, University of Arizona


Laurie Simmons (b. 1949) 'Woman/Red Couch/Newspaper' 1978


Laurie Simmons (American, b. 1949)
Woman/Red Couch/Newspaper
Silver dye-bleach print
© Laurie Simmons
Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Ralph M. Parsons Fund


Sandy Skoglund (b. 1946) 'Revenge of the Goldfish, 1980' 1980


Sandy Skoglund (American, b. 1946)
Revenge of the Goldfish, 1980
Silver dye-bleach print
© 1981 Sandy Skoglund
St. Louis Art Museum, Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Fielding Lewis Holmes


Mark Cohen (b. 1943) 'Boy in Yellow Shirt Smoking' 1977


Mark Cohen (American, b. 1943)
Boy in Yellow Shirt Smoking
Dye coupler print
© Mark Cohen
Courtesy the artist and ROSEGALLERY


John F. Collins (1888?-1988) 'Tire' 1938


John F. Collins (American, 1888?-1988)
Silver dye-bleach print
Courtesy Howard Greenberg Gallery


Richard Misrach (b.1949) 'Paradise Valley (Arizona), 3.22.95, 7:05 P.M.' 1995


Richard Misrach (American, b. 1949)
Paradise Valley (Arizona), 3.22.95, 7:05 P.M.
Dye coupler print
© Richard Misrach, courtesy Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco, Marc Selwyn Fine Art, Los Angeles and Pace/MacGill Gallery, NY


Henry Holmes Smith (1909-1986) 'Tricolor Collage on Black' 1946


Henry Holmes Smith (American, 1909-1986)
Tricolor Collage on Black
Dye imbibition print over gelatin silver print
© Smith Family Trust
Indiana University Art Museum, Henry Holmes Smith Archive


Mitch Epstein (b. 1952) 'Flag' 2000


Mitch Epstein (American, b. 1952)
Dye coupler print
© Black River Productions
Private collection


Trevor Paglen (b. 1974) 'The Fence (Lake Kickapoo, Texas)' 2010


Trevor Paglen (American, b. 1974)
The Fence (Lake Kickapoo, Texas)
Dye coupler print, 2011
© Trevor Paglen
Amon Carter Museum of American Art, Fort Worth, Texas


Joaquin Trujillo (b. 1976) 'Jacky' 2003


Joaquin Trujillo (American, b. 1976)
From the series Los Niños
Inkjet print, 2011
© Joaquin Trujillo 2013
Amon Carter Museum of American art, purchase with funds provided by the Stieglitz Circle of the Amon Carter Museum of American Art


James N. Doolittle (1889-1954) 'Ann Harding' c. 1932


James N. Doolittle (American, 1889-1954)
Ann Harding
c. 1932
Tricolor carbro print
Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, MO



Amon Carter Museum
3501 Camp Bowie Boulevard
Fort Worth, TX 76107-2695

Opening hours:
Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday:
 10am – 5pm
Thursday: 10am – 8pm
Sunday: 12am – 5pm
Closed Mondays and major holidays.

Amon Carter Museum of American Art website


Back to top

Dr Marcus Bunyan

Dr Marcus Bunyan is an Australian artist and writer. His art work explores the boundaries of identity and place. He writes Art Blart, an art and cultural memory archive, which posts mainly photography exhibitions from around the world. He holds a Doctor of Philosophy from RMIT University, Melbourne, a Master of Arts (Fine Art Photography) from RMIT University, and a Master of Art Curatorship from the University of Melbourne.

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email. If you would like to unsubscribe from the email list please email me at bunyanth@netspace.net.au and I will remove you asap. Thank you.

Join 2,962 other subscribers

Marcus Bunyan black and white archive: ‘Orphans and small groups’ 1994-96 Part 2

Follow Art_Blart on Twitter
Art Blart on Pinterest

Blog Stats

  • 13,155,418 hits

Recent Posts

December 2013



If you would like to unsubscribe from the email list please email me at bunyanth@netspace.net.au and I will remove you asap. Thank you.

Join 2,962 other subscribers

%d bloggers like this: