Exhibition: ‘Everyday Epiphanies: Photography and Daily Life Since 1969’ at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

Exhibition dates: 25th June 2013 – 26th January 2014


John Baldessari (American, born National City, California, 1931) 'Hands Framing New York Harbor' 1971


John Baldessari (American, 1931-2020)
Hands Framing New York Harbor
Gelatin silver print
25.4 x 18.0cm (10 x 7 1/16 in.)
Purchase, The Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation Gift, through Joyce and Robert Menschel, 1992
Shunk-Kender © Roy Lichtenstein Foundation



Epiphany: a moment in which you suddenly see or understand something in a new or very clear way.

Stephen Shore’s photographs seem the most insightful epiphanies in this posting, picturing as they do “what he ate, the rest stops he visited, the people he met.” In other words, the wor(l)d as he saw it.


Many thankx to The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York for allowing me to publish the photographs in the posting. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image.



“With the unspoken rules that exhibitions in the Met’s contemporary photography gallery must be drawn exclusively from the museum’s permanent collection and be organised as surveys of the period from the late 1960s to the present, it’s no wonder that these long running shows are often so broad that their themes seem to dissolve into edited collections of everything. The newest selection of images is tied up under the umbrella of “everyday epiphanies”, a construct that implies a delight in the ordinary, the quotidian, or the familiar, but in fact, reaches outward beyond these routine boundaries to works that have a wide variety of conceptual underpinnings and points of view. With some effort, it’s possible to follow the logic of why each piece has been included here, but when seen together, the diversity of the works on view diminishes the show’s ability to deliver any durable insights… The works that function best inside this theme are those that capture moments of unexpected, elemental elegance, often as a result of the way the camera sees the world.”

Loring Knoblauch. “Everyday Epiphanies: Photography and Daily Life Since 1969 @Met,” on the Collector Daily website August 14, 2013 [Online] Cited 20/01/2014



Martha Rosler (American) 'Semiotics of the Kitchen' (still) 1975


Martha Rosler (American, b. 1943)
Semiotics of the Kitchen (still)
Purchase, Henry Nias Foundation Inc. Gift, 2010
Courtesy Electronic Arts Intermix (EAI), New York


Jan Groover (American, 1943-2012) 'Untitled' 1980


Jan Groover (American, 1943-2012)
Platinum print
19.0 x 24.0cm (7 1/2 x 9 7/16 in.)
David Hunter McAlpin Fund, 1981
The Metropolitan Museum of Art
© Jan Groover


Carrie Mae Weems (American, born 1953) 'Untitled (Man Smoking)' 1990


Carrie Mae Weems (American, b. 1953)
Untitled (Man Smoking)
From the Kitchen Table Series
Gelatin silver print
Image: 71.8 × 71.8cm (28 1/4 × 28 1/4 in.)
Courtesy of the artist and Jack Shainman Gallery, New York


Erica Baum (American, born New York, 1961) 'Buzzard' 2009


Erica Baum (American, b. 1961) 
Inkjet print
22.9 x 22.9cm (9 x 9 in.)
Purchase, Marian and James H. Cohen Gift, in memory of their son, Michael Harrison Cohen, 2012
The Metropolitan Museum of Art
© Erica Baum



Since the birth of photography in 1839, artists have used the medium to explore subjects close to home – the quotidian, intimate, and overlooked aspects of everyday existence. Everyday Epiphanies: Photography and Daily Life Since 1969, an exhibition of 40 works at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, presents photographs and videos from the last four decades that examine these ordinary moments. The exhibition features photographs by a wide range of artists including John Baldessari, Philip-Lorca diCorcia, Fischli & Weiss, Jan Groover, Robert Gober, Nan Goldin, Elizabeth McAlpine, Gabriel Orozco, David Salle, Robert Smithson, Stephen Shore, and William Wegman, as well as videos by Martha Rosler, Ilene Segalove, Brandon Lattu, and Svetlana and Igor Kopytiansky.

Daily life, as it had been lived in Western Europe and America since the 1950s, was called into question in the late 1960s by a counterculture that rebelled against the prior “cookie-cutter” lifestyle. Everything from feminism to psychedelic drugs to space exploration suggested a nearly infinite array of alternative ways to perceive reality; and artists and thinkers in the ’60s and ’70s proposed a “revolution of everyday life.” A four-part work by David Salle from 1973 exemplifies the artist’s flair for piquant juxtaposition at an early stage in his career. In depicting four women in bathrobes standing before their respective kitchen windows in contemplative states, Salle goes against the grain of feminist orthodoxy – revealing a penchant for courting controversy that he would expand in his later paintings; pasted underneath the black-and-white images of the women are brightly coloured labels of their preferred coffee brands, with the arbitrarily differentiated brands signifying an insufficient substitute for true freedom in the postwar era. Martha Rosler’s bracingly caustic video Semiotics of the Kitchen and Ilene Segalove’s wistfully funny The Mom Tapes complete a trio of works investigating the role of women in a rapidly changing society.

In the 1980s, artists’ renewed interest in conventions of narrative and genre led to often highly staged or produced images that hint at how even our deepest feelings are mediated by the images that surround us. In the wake of the economic crash of the late 1980s, photographers focused increasingly on what was swept under the carpet – the repressed and the taboo. Sally Mann’s Jesse at Five (1987) depicts the artist’s daughter as the central figure, half-dressed, dolled-up, and posed like an adult. Mann often created these frank images of her children and caused some controversy during the culture wars of the late 1980s and early 1990s. However, her photographs of her children are remarkable for the artist’s assured handling of a potentially explosive subject with equanimity and grace.

During the following decade, artists created photographs and videos that confused the real and the imaginary in ways that almost eerily predicted the epistemological quandaries posed by the digital revolution. Meanwhile, a trio of recently made works by Erica Baum, Elizabeth McAlpine, and Brandon Lattu combine process and product in novel ways to comment obliquely on the shifting sands of how we come to know the world in our digital age.

Press release from The Metropolitan Museum of Art website


Jean-Marc Bustamante (French, born 1952) 'Untitled' 1997


Jean-Marc Bustamante (French, b. 1952) 
Chromogenic print
40 x 59cm (15 3/4 x 23 1/4 in.)
Purchase, The Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation Gift, through Joyce and Robert  Menschel, 1999
The Metropolitan Museum of Art
© Jean-Marc Bustamante


Nan Goldin (American, born 1953) 'Heart-Shaped Bruise, NYC' 1980


Nan Goldin (American, b. 1953)
Heart-Shaped Bruise, NYC
Silver dye bleach print
50.8 x 60.96cm (20 x 24 in.)
Purchase, The Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation Gift, through Joyce and Robert  Menschel, 2001
The Metropolitan Museum of Art
© Nan Goldin, Courtesy Matthew Marks Gallery, New York


Larry Sultan (American, 1946-2009) 'My Father Reading the Newspaper' 1989


Larry Sultan (American, 1946-2009)
My Father Reading the Newspaper
Chromogenic print
Stewart S. MacDermott Fund, 1991
© Larry Sultan


Gabriel Orozco (Mexican, born 1962) 'Caja vacia de zapatos' (Empty shoebox) 1993


Gabriel Orozco (Mexican, b. 1962)
Caja vacia de zapatos (Empty shoebox)
Silver dye bleach print
31.8 x 46.4cm (12 1/2 x 18 1/4 in.)
Gift of the artist, 1995
The Metropolitan Museum of Art
© Gabriel Orozco


Gabriel Orozco (Mexican, born Jalapa Enriquez, 1962) 'Vitral' 1998


Gabriel Orozco (Mexican, born Jalapa Enriquez, b. 1962)
Silver dye bleach print
40.6 x 50.8 cm (16 x 20 in.)
Purchase, The Judith Rothschild Foundation Gift, 1999
© Gabriel Orozco


Stephen Shore (American, born 1947) 'Oklahoma City, Oklahoma' July 9, 1972


Stephen Shore (American, b. 1947)
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
July 9, 1972
From the series American Surfaces
Chromogenic print
Gift of Weston J. Naef, 1974
© Stephen Shore



As a teenager in the 1960s, Shore was one of two in-house photographers at Andy Warhol’s Factory. During his first cross-country photographic road trip, Shore adopted the catholic approach of his mentor, accepting into his art everything that came along – what he ate, the rest stops he visited, the people he met. He then processed his colour film as “drugstore prints”, the imprecise, colloquial term for the kind of amateur non-specialised snapshots that filled family photo albums. The entire series of 229 prints was shown for the first time in 1974 and acquired by the Metropolitan from that exhibition.


Stephen Shore (American, born 1947) 'West Palm Beach, Florida' January 1973


Stephen Shore (American, b. 1947)
West Palm Beach, Florida
January 1973
From the series American Surfaces
Chromogenic print
Gift of Weston J. Naef, 1974
© Stephen Shore


Stephen Shore (American, born 1947) 'Clovis, New Mexico' 1974


Stephen Shore (American, b. 1947)
Clovis, New Mexico
From the series American Surfaces
Chromogenic print
Gift of Weston J. Naef, Jr., 1974
The Metropolitan Museum of Art
© Stephen Shore



The Metropolitan Museum of Art
1000 Fifth Avenue at 82nd Street
New York, New York 10028-0198
Phone: 212-535-7710

Opening hours:
Sunday – Tuesday and Thursday: 10am – 5pm
Friday and Saturday: 10am – 9pm
Closed Wednesday

The Metropolitan Museum of Art 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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