Exhibition: ‘At the Window: The Photographer’s View’ at the J. Paul Getty Museum, Getty Center, Los Angeles

Exhibition dates: 1st October 2013 – 5th January 2014


Robert Frank. 'Trolley - New Orleans' 1955


Robert Frank (Swiss, 1924-2019)
Trolley – New Orleans
Gelatin silver print
Image: 22.9 x 34cm (9 x 13 3/8 in.)
Trish and Jan de Bont



Another fascinating exhibition from the J. Paul Getty Museum that features classic photographs and some that I have never seen before. In my opinion, the two most famous photographs of windows have to be Minor White’s rhapsodic Windowsill Daydreaming, Rochester (1958, below) and Paul Strand’s Wall Street (1915, below, originally known as Pedestrians raked by morning light in a canyon of commerce) which, strangely, is not included in the exhibition. I can’t understand this omission as this is the seminal image of windows in the history of photography.


Many thankx to the J. Paul Getty Museum for allowing me to publish the photographs in the posting. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image.


Paul Strand. 'Wall Street, New York' 1915


Paul Strand (American, 1890-1976)
Wall Street



In this photo, taken by morning light 1915, the recently built J.P. Morgan Co. building appears sinister and foreboding and dwarfs (perhaps consumes even) the humanity of suited men and women, their long shadows dragging behind them, walked alongside its facade.

Paul Strand studied under Lewis Hine and Alfred Steiglitz. Although he set up in New York as a portrait photographer, Strand often visited Stieglitz’s gallery to see the new European painting which it exhibited. In 1914-1915, under the influence of this new form of art, Strand turned from soft-focus Pictoralism towards abstraction. It was in this spirit that the above photo was taken, originally named, “Pedestrians raked by morning light in a canyon of commerce”. Strand did not intended to show Wall Street in a bad light, he admitted. However, as the Great Depression happened (criticism was squarely towards Wall Street back then as it is today) and Strand turned more communist, he later spoke of “sinister windows” and “blind shapes” inherent in the above picture.

The photo, now simply titled “Wall Street”, was one of six Paul Strand pictures Stieglitz published in Camera Work. In three of the six pictures, humanity strides out from abstract ideas, and each figure was a study in itself – an irregular item complimented by modular formats that surround it. Another set of eleven Strand photos were published in the magazine’s final issue in 1917, and those pictures, overwhelmingly endorsed by Stieglitz as ‘brutally direct’ made Strand’s reputation.

Alex Selwyn-Holmes. “Wall Street by Paul Strand,” on the Iconic Photos blog, December 2010 [Online] Cited 12/01/2021


Arthur Rothstein (American, 1915-1985) 'Girl at Gee's Bend' 1937


Arthur Rothstein (American, 1915-1985)
Girl at Gee’s Bend
Silver gelatin print
Image: 40 x 49.7cm (15 3/4 x 19 9/16 in.)
The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles


Edmund Collein (German, 1906-1992) '[Four Women Looking Through Window]' about 1928


Edmund Collein (German, 1906-1992)
[Four Women Looking Through Window]
about 1928
Gelatin silver print
Image: 8.2 x 11.1cm (3 1/4 x 4 3/8 in.)
The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles
© Ursula Kirsten-Collein, Berlin


Walker Evans (American, 1903-1975) 'Wall Street Windows' about 1929


Walker Evans (American, 1903-1975)
Wall Street Windows
about 1929
Gelatin silver print
Image: 29.8 x 19.2cm (11 3/4 x 7 9/16 in.)
The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles
© Walker Evans Archive, The Metropolitan Museum of Art


William Henry Fox Talbot (English, 1800-1877) '[The Milliner's Window]' before January 1844


William Henry Fox Talbot (English, 1800-1877)
[The Milliner’s Window]
before January 1844
Salted paper print from a Calotype negative
Image: 14.3 x 19.5cm (5 5/8 x 7 11/16 in.)
The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles


Paul Strand (American, 1890-1976) 'Barn Window and Ice, East Jamaica, Vermont' 1943


Paul Strand (American, 1890-1976)
Barn Window and Ice, East Jamaica, Vermont
Gelatin silver print
Image (trimmed to mount): 19.4 x 24.3cm (7 5/8 x 9 9/16 in.)
The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles
© Aperture Foundation


Brett Weston (American, 1911-1993) 'Rain Drops' 1953


Brett Weston (American, 1911-1993)
Rain Drops
Gelatin silver print
Image: 20.2 x 25cm (7 15/16 x 9 13/16 in.)
The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, Gift of Christian K. Keesee
© The Brett Weston Archive


Sebastião Salgado (Brazilian, born 1944) 'Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam' Negative 1995; print 2009


Sebastião Salgado (Brazilian, b. 1944)
Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Negative 1995; print 2009
Gelatin silver print
Image: 34.3 x 51.4cm (13 1/2 x 20 1/4 in.)
The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles
© Sebastião Salgado



In many respects, the window was where photography began. As early as 1826, the sill of an upstairs window in the home of the French inventor Joseph Nicéphore Niépce served as a platform for his photographic experiments. His View from the Window at Le Gras is today considered to be the first photograph. Since then, the window motif in photographs has functioned formally as a framing device and conceptually as a tool for artistic expression. It is also tied metaphorically to the camera itself which is, at its most rudimentary, a “room” (the word camera means “chamber”) and its lens a “window” through which images are projected and fixed. The photographs in At the Window: A Photographer’s View, on view October 1, 2013 – January 5, 2014 at the J. Paul Getty Museum, Getty Center, explore varying aspects of the window as frame or mirror – formally or metaphorically – for photographic vision.

“The Getty Museum’s extensive collection allows us to explore themes and subjects within the history of photography that highlight not only the most famous masters and iconic images they produced, but also less obvious subjects, methods and practitioners of the medium whose contributions have not yet been fully acknowledged. At the Window is one such an exhibition, and holds in store many surprises, even for those who know the field well,” explains Timothy Potts, director of the J. Paul Getty Museum. “The exhibition also allows us to celebrate a substantial body of work that was recently added to the collection with funds provided by the Museum’s Photographs Council, whose mission it is to help us support the growth of the collection, and a number of highly important loans from private collections.”


Shop Windows and Architecture

Featured in the exhibition is an exceedingly rare early photograph, William Henry Fox Talbot’s The Milliner’s Window (before January 1844) which depicts not an actual window but a carefully constructed one: shelves were placed outdoors and propped in front of black cloth, while various ladies’ hats were arranged to simulate the look of a shop display. Throughout the history of photography, actual shop fronts have been a popular subject and reflections in their windows a source for unexpected juxtapositions. This motif is well represented in the exhibition with photographs by William Eggleston, Eugène Atget, and Walker Evans.

Photographers have also taken an interest in the distinctive formal arrangements made possible by the architectural facades found in a cityscape. André Kertész’s Rue Vavin, Paris (1925), a view from his apartment window, is one of the first photographs he took upon arriving in Paris from Budapest. Photographers like Alfred Stieglitz carefully framed their views of urban exteriors, using the window as a unifying device within the composition.


The Window as Social Documentary

While windows provide an opportunity to observe life beyond a single room, the camera’s lens opens a window to the world at large. Arthur Rothstein believed in photography’s ability to enact social change – his Girl at Gee’s Bend (1937) features a young girl framed in the window of her log-and-earth home in Alabama, highlighting the schism between magazine images and the actual lives of most Americans at the time. Similarly, Robert Frank’s Trolley – New Orleans (1955) frames racial segregation through windows in a trolley, while Sebastião Salgado’s Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam (negative 1995; print 2009) uses the barely separated windows of a housing structure to evoke the cramped quarters and dire economic situation of its inhabitants.


The Window as a Conceptual Tool

Artists have used the window in other novel ways, whether to create an enigmatic mood or suggest a suspenseful scene. In Gregory Crewdson’s Untitled (2002) from the series Twilight, the image of a woman standing in a room and turned toward a window creates a suspended, unsettling moment of anticipation that is never resolved. In her Stranger series (2000), Shizuka Yokomizo actively engages subjects by sending letters to randomly selected apartment residents, asking them to stand in front of a window at a particular date and time in order to be photographed. Uta Barth’s diptych …and of time (2000), where the path of a window’s light and shadow is followed across the wall of the artist’s living room, illustrates something the artist phrased as “ambient vision.”

“The window has been a recurrent and powerful theme for photographers from the beginning of the medium,” explains Karen Hellman, assistant curator of photographs at the J. Paul Getty Museum and curator of the exhibition. “In a collection such as the Getty’s that is particularly rich in work by important photographers from the beginnings of the medium to the present day, the motif provides a unique way to travel through the history of photography.”


The Window in Photographs (Getty Publications, $24.95, hardcover) investigates the recurrence of windows both as a figurative and literal theme throughout the history of photography. From the very vocabulary we use to describe cameras and photographic processes to the subjects of world-renowned photographers, windows have long held powerful sway over artists working in the medium. When documented on film, windows call into question issues of representation, the malleability of perception, and the viewer’s experience of the photograph itself, and the window’s evocative power is often rooted in the interplay between positive and negative, darkness and light, and inside and out.

Yet despite the ubiquity of windows in photography, this subject has been rarely addressed head on in a single exhibition or publication. From the birth of the Daguerreotype to the development of digital imagery, this volume presents a full account of the motif of the window as a symbol of photographic vision. Its eighty featured colour plates, all drawn from the Getty Museum’s permanent collection, are arranged thematically rather than chronologically, allowing the window’s many uses in photography to be highlighted and explored stylistically. Including images from all-star contributors such as Uta Barth, Gregory Crewdson, William Eggleston, Walker Evans, Robert Frank, and Minor White, The Window in Photographs is a remarkable examination of a theme that has inspired photographers for over a century. This book is published to coincide with the exhibition At the Window: The Photographer’s View at the J. Paul Getty Museum from October 1, 2013 to January 5, 2014.

Press release from the J. Paul Getty Museum website


Minor White. 'Windowsill daydreaming' 1958


Minor White (American, 1908-1976)
Windowsill Daydreaming, Rochester
Negative July 1958; print 1960
Gelatin silver print, selenium toned
Image: 28.6 x 22.2cm (11 1/4 x 8 3/4 in.)
The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles,
Purchased in part with funds provided by the Greenberg Foundation
© Trustees of Princeton University, Minor White Archive


Charles Swedlund (American, born 1935) 'Buffalo, NY' about 1970


Charles Swedlund (American, born 1935)
Buffalo, NY
about 1970
Gelatin silver print
Image: 18.7 x 15.9cm (7 3/8 x 6 1/4 in.)
The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles
Purchased in part with funds provided by an anonymous donor in memory of James N. Wood
© Charles Swedlund


Walker Evans. 'Penny Picture Display, Savannah' 1936


Walker Evans (American, 1903-1975)
Penny Picture Display, Savannah / Photographer’s Window Display, Birmingham, Alabama / Studio Portraits, Birmingham, Alabama
Gelatin silver print
Image: 25.6 x 19.9cm (10 1/16 x 7 7/8 in.)
The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles


Eugène Atget (French, 1857-1927) 'Petit Bacchus, 61, rue St. Louis en l'Ile' (The Little Bacchus Café, rue St. Louis en l'Ile) 1901-1902


Eugène Atget (French, 1857-1927)
Petit Bacchus, 61, rue St. Louis en l’Ile (The Little Bacchus Café, rue St. Louis en l’Ile)
Albumen silver print
Image: 22.1 x 17.8cm (8 11/16 x 7 in.)
The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles


Alfred Stieglitz (American, 1864-1946) '[From My Window at the Shelton, North]' 1931


Alfred Stieglitz (American, 1864-1946)
[From My Window at the Shelton, North]
Gelatin silver print
Image (trimmed to mount): 24.3 x 19.1cm (9 9/16 x 7 1/2 in.)
The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles
© Georgia O’Keeffe Museum


Yuki Onodera (Japanese, born 1962) 'Look Out the Window, No. 18' 2000


Yuki Onodera (Japanese, b. 1962)
Look Out the Window, No. 18
Gelatin silver print
Image: 59 x 49.2cm (23 1/4 x 19 3/8 in.)
The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, Purchased with funds provided by the Photographs Council
© Yuki Onodera


Shizuka Yokomizo (Japanese, born 1966) 'Stranger (15)' 1998-2000


Shizuka Yokomizo (Japanese, b. 1966)
Stranger (15)
Chromogenic print
Mount: 124.5 x 104.9cm (49 x 41 5/16 in.)
The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles,
Purchased with funds provided by the Photographs Council
© Shizuka Yokomizo


Alex Prager (American, born 1979) 'Megan' 2007


Alex Prager (American, b. 1979)
Chromogenic print
Framed: 125.7 x 62.9cm (49 1/2 x 24 3/4 in.)
Michael and Jane Wilson


Gregory Crewdson (American, born 1962) 'Untitled' from the series 'Twilight' 2002


Gregory Crewdson (American, born 1962)
Untitled from the series Twilight
Chromogenic print
Image: 122 x 152cm (48 1/16 x 59 13/16 in.)
The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles
Gift of Trish and Jan de Bont
© Gregory Crewdson


Uta Barth (German, born 1958) 'Untitled (...and of time. #4)' 2000


Uta Barth (German, born 1958)
Untitled (…and of time. #4)
Chromogenic print
Image: 88.9 x 114.3cm (35 x 45 in.)
The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles
© 2000 Uta Barth



The J. Paul Getty Museum
1200 Getty Center Drive
Los Angeles, California 90049

Opening hours:
Tuesday – Friday 10am – 5.30pm
Saturday 10am – 8pm
Sunday 10am – 5.30pm
Monday closed

The J. Paul Getty Museum website


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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.

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