Archive for the 'sculpture' Category

14
Aug
20

Pamphlet: ‘Australian Aboriginal Art’ with texts by Charles Barrett and A.S. Kenyon, National Museum of Victoria, 1952

August 2020

 

Cover of the pamphlet 'Australian Aboriginal Art' by Charles Barrett and A.S. Kenyon 1952

 

Unknown artist. Cover of the pamphlet Australian Aboriginal Art, National Museum of Victoria, 1952

 

 

I found this rare pamphlet in an op shop (charity shop). I have decided to publish it on Art Blart as part of a historical record, so that it is available to researchers into Indigenous Australian culture and art. While I believe that the text and images contain no information of secret sacred importance, if anyone has any concerns please contact me at bunyanth@netspace.net.au.

What is fascinating about the text is that it was originally published by the National Museum of Victoria in 1929, and then reprinted verbatim for this pamphlet in 1952. In other words, no new scholarship had taken place in the intervening 23 years that was noteworthy enough for the Museum to feel it needed to update the text. Other interesting facts are that Aboriginal Art was housed within the Australian Ethnology section, art as an outcome of the study of the characteristics of different people, and that it was known as “primitive art” made by “primitive peoples”. Even the National Gallery of Australia had a “primitive art” gallery up until the 1980s!

Of course, the texts are of their time. In the first text “The Primitive Artist” by Charles Barrett, he questions the quality, authenticity and age of the rock paintings at Mootwingee – whether they are a few centuries old or of old antiquity it – and apparently, it makes no difference. Barrett then praises the magic making art of Indigenous Australians, while at the same time encouraging us to look upon their art as merely pictures (Barrett, p. 11). He seems to be equally attracted and repulsed by “primitive art”, as an expression of man’s artistic tendency, in cave paintings and rock-carvings whose forms are grotesque and even repulsive.

Barrett admits that their finest decorations, on weapons and sacred objects, are magic: “Here is a magic truly; no “Art for Art’s sake.” (Barrett, p. 12). And then in the next paragraph, while extolling that we should have more interest in the Australian race, and learn its culture, he announces that Indigenous Australians are “living fossils” and are failing. Using the terminology of Edward S. Curtis (who photographed the First Nations Peoples of America in the early 20th century), they are The Vanishing Race (1904), the title of his photograph of Navajo riding off into an indeterminate distance. Destined for extinction. Further, Barrett states that every “relic” of the Aboriginals is worth preserving, as though all Indigenous people were already a historical artefact, no longer living. The use of the word relic is informative: its derivation comes from Old French relique (originally plural), from Latin reliquiae, the latter mid 17th century Latin, feminine plural (used as a noun) of reliquus ‘remaining’, based on linquere ‘to leave’. In other words, they remain and leave at one and the same time, the remainder only a husk of the original.

In the second text “The Art of the Australian Aboriginal” by A.S. Kenyon, the researcher and psychologist into Indigenous art is urged, indeed must, divest themselves of all civilised conceptions and mentality and assume those of a prehistoric man – or that of a child. “Prior or the British settlement of Eastern Australia – to be precise, prior to Governor Phillip establishing his colony at Port Jackson, there appears to be no record of aboriginal paintings or carvings.” (A.S. Kenyon, p. 22) What Kenyon seems to be suggesting is that it is only through the influence of the “civilised” Europeans that Indigenous Australians begin painting and carving. A description of the various representational techniques of Indigenous Australian art making follows, the art divided into two classes: fixed and portable. “In the first class, those of fixed objects, we have (a) rock-paintings; (b) rock-carvings; (c) tree-carvings; (d) tree-paintings; (e) ground-paintings; (f) ground-models. In the second, or portable class, there are (a) figures or models; (b) weapons, implements and utensils, decorated either by painting or carving; (c) ceremonial objects; (d) ornaments or personal adornment; (e) bark-paintings. (A.S. Kenyon, p. 27)

I believe it is important to have these texts (which are less than 100 years old), and the paradoxical historical attitudes towards Australian Indigenous culture and art they contain, published online. The pamphlet recognises Aboriginal culture yet also rules a ledger under it. (Professor Tom Griffiths’ observations on Geoffrey Blainey’s book Triumph of the Nomads). The attitude was that while this “primitive art” was worthy of study, ultimately it belonged to an archaic, fragile culture which was destined to be consigned to history.

I am so glad that this spiritual culture (and the changing Western understanding of Australian Indigenous art and culture) has proved the authors wrong.

Dr Marcus Bunyan

.
Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image.

 

 

Title page of the pamphlet 'Australian Aboriginal Art' by Charles Barrett and A.S. Kenyon 1952

 

Title page of the pamphlet Australian Aboriginal Art with texts by Charles Barrett and A.S. Kenyon (text reprinted from the 1929 exhibition), National Museum of Victoria, 1952

 

Preface of the pamphlet 'Australian Aboriginal Art' by Charles Barrett and A.S. Kenyon 1952

 

Preface of the pamphlet Australian Aboriginal Art with texts by Charles Barrett and A.S. Kenyon (text reprinted from the 1929 exhibition), National Museum of Victoria, 1952

 

"The Primitive Artist" by Charles Barrett in the pamphlet 'Australian Aboriginal Art' by Charles Barrett and A.S. Kenyon

 

“The Primitive Artist” by Charles Barrett in the pamphlet Australian Aboriginal Art with texts by Charles Barrett and A.S. Kenyon (text reprinted from the 1929 exhibition), National Museum of Victoria, 1952, p. 5

 

"The Primitive Artist" by Charles Barrett in the pamphlet 'Australian Aboriginal Art' by Charles Barrett and A.S. Kenyon

 

“The Primitive Artist” by Charles Barrett in the pamphlet Australian Aboriginal Art with texts by Charles Barrett and A.S. Kenyon (text reprinted from the 1929 exhibition), National Museum of Victoria, 1952, p. 6-7

 

Mootwingee Rock Carvings

 

Unknown photographer. “Mootwingee Rock Carvings. Pecked Type,” in “The Primitive Artist” by Charles Barrett from the pamphlet Australian Aboriginal Art with texts by Charles Barrett and A.S. Kenyon (text reprinted from the 1929 exhibition), National Museum of Victoria, 1952, p. 6

 

Great Rock Shelter at Mootwingee, New South Wales

 

Unknown photographer. “Great Rock Shelter at Mootwingee, New South Wales,” in “The Primitive Artist” by Charles Barrett from the pamphlet Australian Aboriginal Art with texts by Charles Barrett and A.S. Kenyon (text reprinted from the 1929 exhibition), National Museum of Victoria, 1952, p. 7

 

Rock Engraving, Mootwingee

 

Unknown photographer. “Rock Engraving, Mootwingee,” in “The Primitive Artist” by Charles Barrett from the pamphlet Australian Aboriginal Art with texts by Charles Barrett and A.S. Kenyon (text reprinted from the 1929 exhibition), National Museum of Victoria, 1952, p. 7

 

"The Primitive Artist" by Charles Barrett in the pamphlet 'Australian Aboriginal Art' by Charles Barrett and A.S. Kenyon

 

“The Primitive Artist” by Charles Barrett in the pamphlet Australian Aboriginal Art with texts by Charles Barrett and A.S. Kenyon (text reprinted from the 1929 exhibition), National Museum of Victoria, 1952, p. 8-9

 

from North Queensland

 

“Painted Shields from North Queensland,” in “The Primitive Artist” by Charles Barrett from the pamphlet Australian Aboriginal Art with texts by Charles Barrett and A.S. Kenyon (text reprinted from the 1929 exhibition), National Museum of Victoria, 1952, p. 9

 

"The Primitive Artist" by Charles Barrett in the pamphlet 'Australian Aboriginal Art' by Charles Barrett and A.S. Kenyon

 

“The Primitive Artist” by Charles Barrett in the pamphlet Australian Aboriginal Art with texts by Charles Barrett and A.S. Kenyon (text reprinted from the 1929 exhibition), National Museum of Victoria, 1952, p. 10-11

 

Bark Drawing. Northern Territory. Native in canoe spearing crocodile

 

“Bark Drawing. Northern Territory. Native in canoe spearing crocodile,” in “The Primitive Artist” by Charles Barrett from the pamphlet Australian Aboriginal Art with texts by Charles Barrett and A.S. Kenyon (text reprinted from the 1929 exhibition), National Museum of Victoria, 1952, p. 11

 

"The Primitive Artist" by Charles Barrett in the pamphlet 'Australian Aboriginal Art' by Charles Barrett and A.S. Kenyon

 

“The Primitive Artist” by Charles Barrett in the pamphlet Australian Aboriginal Art with texts by Charles Barrett and A.S. Kenyon (text reprinted from the 1929 exhibition), National Museum of Victoria, 1952, p. 12-13

 

Rock Painting, South Africa

 

“Rock Painting, South Africa,” in “The Primitive Artist” by Charles Barrett from the pamphlet Australian Aboriginal Art with texts by Charles Barrett and A.S. Kenyon (text reprinted from the 1929 exhibition), National Museum of Victoria, 1952, p. 12

 

"The Art of the Australian Aboriginal" by A.S. Kenyon in the pamphlet 'Australian Aboriginal Art' by Charles Barrett and A.S. Kenyon

 

“The Art of the Australian Aboriginal” by A.S. Kenyon in the pamphlet Australian Aboriginal Art with texts by Charles Barrett and A.S. Kenyon (text reprinted from the 1929 exhibition), National Museum of Victoria, 1952, p. 14-15

 

 

“Native Corroboree. Drawn by Tommy Barnes, a Mission Aboriginal, showing European influence,” in “The Art of the Australian Aboriginal” by A.S. Kenyon from the pamphlet Australian Aboriginal Art with texts by Charles Barrett and A.S. Kenyon (text reprinted from the 1929 exhibition), National Museum of Victoria, 1952, p. 14.

 

"The Art of the Australian Aboriginal" by A.S. Kenyon in the pamphlet 'Australian Aboriginal Art' by Charles Barrett and A.S. Kenyon

 

“The Art of the Australian Aboriginal” by A.S. Kenyon in the pamphlet Australian Aboriginal Art with texts by Charles Barrett and A.S. Kenyon (text reprinted from the 1929 exhibition), National Museum of Victoria, 1952, p. 16-17

 

Prehistoric Rock Painting, Spain. Showing superimposed figures

 

“Prehistoric Rock Painting, Spain. Showing superimposed figures,” in “The Art of the Australian Aboriginal” by A.S. Kenyon from the pamphlet Australian Aboriginal Art with texts by Charles Barrett and A.S. Kenyon (text reprinted from the 1929 exhibition), National Museum of Victoria, 1952, p. 16

 

Stone Churingas from Central Australia. Showing symbolic and totemic figures

 

“Stone Churingas from Central Australia. Showing symbolic and totemic figures,” in “The Art of the Australian Aboriginal” by A.S. Kenyon from the pamphlet Australian Aboriginal Art with texts by Charles Barrett and A.S. Kenyon (text reprinted from the 1929 exhibition), National Museum of Victoria, 1952, p. 17

 

"The Art of the Australian Aboriginal" by A.S. Kenyon in the pamphlet 'Australian Aboriginal Art' by Charles Barrett and A.S. Kenyon

 

“The Art of the Australian Aboriginal” by A.S. Kenyon in the pamphlet Australian Aboriginal Art with texts by Charles Barrett and A.S. Kenyon (text reprinted from the 1929 exhibition), National Museum of Victoria, 1952, p. 18-19

 

"The Art of the Australian Aboriginal" by A.S. Kenyon in the pamphlet 'Australian Aboriginal Art' by Charles Barrett and A.S. Kenyon

 

“The Art of the Australian Aboriginal” by A.S. Kenyon in the pamphlet Australian Aboriginal Art with texts by Charles Barrett and A.S. Kenyon (text reprinted from the 1929 exhibition), National Museum of Victoria, 1952, p. 20-21

 

Rock Paintings. Prince Regent River, North-west Australia. Superimposed figures

 

“Rock Paintings. Prince Regent River, North-west Australia. Superimposed figures,” in “The Art of the Australian Aboriginal” by A.S. Kenyon from the pamphlet Australian Aboriginal Art with texts by Charles Barrett and A.S. Kenyon (text reprinted from the 1929 exhibition), National Museum of Victoria, 1952, p. 21

 

"The Art of the Australian Aboriginal" by A.S. Kenyon in the pamphlet 'Australian Aboriginal Art' by Charles Barrett and A.S. Kenyon

 

“The Art of the Australian Aboriginal” by A.S. Kenyon in the pamphlet Australian Aboriginal Art with texts by Charles Barrett and A.S. Kenyon (text reprinted from the 1929 exhibition), National Museum of Victoria, 1952, p. 22-23

 

Bark drawing representing Settler's Homestead, Lake Tyrrell, Victoria

 

“Bark drawing representing Settler’s Homestead, Lake Tyrrell, Victoria,” in “The Art of the Australian Aboriginal” by A.S. Kenyon from the pamphlet Australian Aboriginal Art with texts by Charles Barrett and A.S. Kenyon (text reprinted from the 1929 exhibition), National Museum of Victoria, 1952, p. 23

 

"The Art of the Australian Aboriginal" by A.S. Kenyon in the pamphlet 'Australian Aboriginal Art' by Charles Barrett and A.S. Kenyon

 

“The Art of the Australian Aboriginal” by A.S. Kenyon in the pamphlet Australian Aboriginal Art by Charles Barrett and A.S. Kenyon (text reprinted from the 1929 exhibition), National Museum of Victoria, 1952, p. 24-25

 

Rock Carvings, Port Jackson, New South Wales. Grooved type

 

“Rock Carvings, Port Jackson, New South Wales. Grooved type,” in “The Art of the Australian Aboriginal” by A.S. Kenyon from the pamphlet Australian Aboriginal Art with texts by Charles Barrett and A.S. Kenyon (text reprinted from the 1929 exhibition), National Museum of Victoria, 1952, p. 25

 

"The Art of the Australian Aboriginal" by A.S. Kenyon in the pamphlet 'Australian Aboriginal Art' by Charles Barrett and A.S. Kenyon

 

“The Art of the Australian Aboriginal” by A.S. Kenyon in the pamphlet Australian Aboriginal Art with texts by Charles Barrett and A.S. Kenyon (text reprinted from the 1929 exhibition), National Museum of Victoria, 1952, p. 26-27

 

Rock Painting, Prince Regent River, North-west Australia. From Bradshaw's original sketch

 

“Rock Painting, Prince Regent River, North-west Australia. From Bradshaw’s original sketch,” in “The Art of the Australian Aboriginal” by A.S. Kenyon from the pamphlet Australian Aboriginal Art with texts by Charles Barrett and A.S. Kenyon (text reprinted from the 1929 exhibition), National Museum of Victoria, 1952, p. 26

 

"The Art of the Australian Aboriginal" by A.S. Kenyon in the pamphlet 'Australian Aboriginal Art' by Charles Barrett and A.S. Kenyon

 

“The Art of the Australian Aboriginal” by A.S. Kenyon in the pamphlet Australian Aboriginal Art with texts by Charles Barrett and A.S. Kenyon (text reprinted from the 1929 exhibition), National Museum of Victoria, 1952, p. 28-29

 

Stencilled Hands in the Cave of Hands, Victoria Range, Victoria

 

Unknown photographer. “Stencilled Hands in the Cave of Hands, Victoria Range, Victoria,” in “The Art of the Australian Aboriginal” by A.S. Kenyon from the pamphlet Australian Aboriginal Art with texts by Charles Barrett and A.S. Kenyon (text reprinted from the 1929 exhibition), National Museum of Victoria, 1952, p. 29

 

"The Art of the Australian Aboriginal" by A.S. Kenyon in the pamphlet 'Australian Aboriginal Art' by Charles Barrett and A.S. Kenyon

 

“The Art of the Australian Aboriginal” by A.S. Kenyon in the pamphlet Australian Aboriginal Art with texts by Charles Barrett and A.S. Kenyon (text reprinted from the 1929 exhibition), National Museum of Victoria, 1952, p. 30-31

 

Rock Painting, Cave of the Serpent, Langi Ghiran, Victoria

 

“Rock Painting, Cave of the Serpent, Langi Ghiran, Victoria,” in “The Art of the Australian Aboriginal” by A.S. Kenyon from the pamphlet Australian Aboriginal Art with texts by Charles Barrett and A.S. Kenyon (text reprinted from the 1929 exhibition), National Museum of Victoria, 1952, p. 30

 

"The Art of the Australian Aboriginal" by A.S. Kenyon in the pamphlet 'Australian Aboriginal Art' by Charles Barrett and A.S. Kenyon

 

“The Art of the Australian Aboriginal” by A.S. Kenyon in the pamphlet Australian Aboriginal Art with texts by Charles Barrett and A.S. Kenyon (text reprinted from the 1929 exhibition), National Museum of Victoria, 1952, p. 32-33

 

Carved Tree. From a photograph by Edmund Milne

 

Edmund Milne. “Carved Tree. From a photograph by Edmund Milne,” in “The Art of the Australian Aboriginal” by A.S. Kenyon from the pamphlet Australian Aboriginal Art with texts by Charles Barrett and A.S. Kenyon (text reprinted from the 1929 exhibition), National Museum of Victoria, 1952, p. 32

 

"The Art of the Australian Aboriginal" by A.S. Kenyon in the pamphlet 'Australian Aboriginal Art' by Charles Barrett and A.S. Kenyon

 

“The Art of the Australian Aboriginal” by A.S. Kenyon in the pamphlet Australian Aboriginal Art with texts by Charles Barrett and A.S. Kenyon (text reprinted from the 1929 exhibition), National Museum of Victoria, 1952, p. 34-35

 

Decorated Shields, Carved and Painted

 

“Decorated Shields, Carved and Painted,” in “The Art of the Australian Aboriginal” by A.S. Kenyon from the pamphlet Australian Aboriginal Art with texts by Charles Barrett and A.S. Kenyon (text reprinted from the 1929 exhibition), National Museum of Victoria, 1952, p. 34

 

"The Art of the Australian Aboriginal" by A.S. Kenyon in the pamphlet 'Australian Aboriginal Art' by Charles Barrett and A.S. Kenyon

 

“The Art of the Australian Aboriginal” by A.S. Kenyon in the pamphlet Australian Aboriginal Art with texts by Charles Barrett and A.S. Kenyon (text reprinted from the 1929 exhibition), National Museum of Victoria, 1952, p. 36-37

 

Painted Bark Bags, Northern Territory

 

“Painted Bark Bags, Northern Territory,” in “The Art of the Australian Aboriginal” by A.S. Kenyon from the pamphlet Australian Aboriginal Art with texts by Charles Barrett and A.S. Kenyon (text reprinted from the 1929 exhibition), National Museum of Victoria, 1952, p. 36

 

"The Art of the Australian Aboriginal" by A.S. Kenyon in the pamphlet 'Australian Aboriginal Art' by Charles Barrett and A.S. Kenyon

 

“The Art of the Australian Aboriginal” by A.S. Kenyon in the pamphlet Australian Aboriginal Art with texts by Charles Barrett and A.S. Kenyon (text reprinted from the 1929 exhibition), National Museum of Victoria, 1952, p. 38-39

 

Bark Paintings, Alligator River, Northern Territory

 

“Bark Paintings, Alligator River, Northern Territory,” in “The Art of the Australian Aboriginal” by A.S. Kenyon from the pamphlet Australian Aboriginal Art with texts by Charles Barrett and A.S. Kenyon (text reprinted from the 1929 exhibition), National Museum of Victoria, 1952, p. 38

 

Making Tracings of Rock Paintings, Glen Isla Rock Shelter, Victoria Range, Victoria

 

Unknown photographer. “Making Tracings of Rock Paintings, Glen Isla Rock Shelter, Victoria Range, Victoria,” in “The Art of the Australian Aboriginal” by A.S. Kenyon from the pamphlet Australian Aboriginal Art with texts by Charles Barrett and A.S. Kenyon (text reprinted from the 1929 exhibition), National Museum of Victoria, 1952, p. 39

 

 

LIKE ART BLART ON FACEBOOK

Back to top

22
Jul
20

Exhibition: ‘2020 Vision: Photographs, 1840s-1860s’ at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

Exhibition dates: 3rd December 2019 – closing date to be announced due to the COVID-19 pandemic

 

Antoine-François-Jean Claudet. ‘The Chess Players’ c. 1845 (detail)

 

Likely by Antoine-François-Jean Claudet (French, Lyon 1797 – 1867 London)
Possibly by Nicolaas Henneman (Dutch, Heemskerk 1813 – 1898 London)
The Chess Players (detail)
c. 1845
Salted paper print from paper negative
Sheet: 9 5/8 × 7 11/16 in. (24.5 × 19.6cm)
Image: 7 13/16 × 5 13/16 in. (19.8 × 14.7cm)
Bequest of Maurice B. Sendak, 2012
The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Public domain

 

 

An excellent selection of photographs in this posting. I particularly like the gender-bending, shape-shifting, age-distorting 1850s-60s Carte-de-visite Album of Collaged Portraits by an unknown artist. I’ve never seen anything like it before, especially from such an early date. Someone obviously took a lot of care, had a great sense of humour and definitely had a great deal of fun making the album.

Other fascinating details include the waiting horses and carriages in Fox Talbot’s View of the Boulevards of Paris (1843); the mannequin perched above the awning of the photographic studio in Dowe’s Photograph Rooms, Sycamore, Illinois (1860s); and the chthonic underworld erupting from the tilting ground in Carleton E. Watkins’ California Oak, Santa Clara Valley (c. 1863).

Dr Marcus Bunyan

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

 

 

When The Met first opened its doors in 1870, photography was still relatively new. Yet over the preceding three decades it had already developed into a complex pictorial language of documentation, social and scientific inquiry, self-expression, and artistic endeavour.

These initial years of photography’s history are the focus of this exhibition, which features new and recent gifts to the Museum, many offered in celebration of The Met’s 150th anniversary and presented here for the first time. The works on view, from examples of candid portraiture and picturesque landscape to pioneering travel photography and photojournalism, chart the varied interests and innovations of early practitioners.

The exhibition, which reveals photography as a dynamic medium through which to view the world, is the first of a two-part presentation that plays on the association of “2020” with clarity of vision while at the same time honouring farsighted and generous collectors and patrons. The second part will move forward a century, bringing together works from the 1940s through the 1960s.

Text from the Metropolitan Museum of Art website

 

 

Antoine-François-Jean Claudet. ‘The Chess Players’ c. 1845

 

Likely by Antoine-François-Jean Claudet (French, Lyon 1797 – 1867 London)
Possibly by Nicolaas Henneman (Dutch, Heemskerk 1813 – 1898 London)
The Chess Players
c. 1845
Salted paper print from paper negative
Sheet: 9 5/8 × 7 11/16 in. (24.5 × 19.6cm)
Image: 7 13/16 × 5 13/16 in. (19.8 × 14.7cm)
Bequest of Maurice B. Sendak, 2012
The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Public domain

 

Lewis Carroll (British, Daresbury, Cheshire 1832 - 1898 Guildford) '[Alice Liddell]' June 25, 1870

 

Lewis Carroll (British, Daresbury, Cheshire 1832 – 1898 Guildford)
[Alice Liddell]
June 25, 1870
Albumen silver print from glass negative
Sheet: 6 1/4 × 5 9/16 in. (15.9 × 14.1cm)
Image: 5 7/8 × 4 15/16 in. (15 × 12.6cm)
Bequest of Maurice B. Sendak, 2012
The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Public domain

 

 

Eighteen-year-old Alice Liddell’s slumped pose, clasped hands, and sullen expression invite interpretation. A favoured model of Lewis Carroll, and the namesake of his novel Alice in Wonderland, Liddell had not seen the writer and photographer for seven years when this picture was made; her mother had abruptly ended all contact in 1863. The young woman poses with apparent unease in this portrait intended to announce her eligibility for marriage. The session closed a long and now controversial history with Carroll, whose portraits of children continue to provoke speculation. In what was to be her last sitting with the photographer, Liddell embodies the passing of childhood innocence that Carroll romanticised through the fictional Alice.

 

Unknown photographer (American) '[Surveyor]' c. 1854

 

Unknown photographer (American)
[Surveyor]
c. 1854
Daguerreotype
Case: 1.6 × 9.2 × 7.9cm (5/8 × 3 5/8 × 3 1/8 in.)
Gift of Charles Isaacs and Carol Nigro, in celebration of the Museum’s 150th Anniversary, 2019
The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Public domain

 

 

This portrait of a surveyor from an unknown daguerreotype studio was made during the heyday of the Daguerreian era in the United States, a time that coincided with an increased need for survey data and maps for the construction of railways, bridges, and roads. The unidentified surveyor, seated in a chair, grasps one leg of the tripod supporting his transit, a type of theodolite or surveying instrument that comprised a compass and rotating telescope. The carefully composed scene, in which the angle of the man’s skyward gaze is aligned with the telescope and echoed by one leg of the tripod, conflates its surveyor subject with an astronomer. As a result, the lands of young America are compared to the vast reaches of space, with both territories full of potential discovery.

 

Unknown photographer (American) '[Surveyor]' c. 1854

 

Unknown photographer (American)
[Surveyor]
c. 1854
Daguerreotype
Case: 1.6 × 9.2 × 7.9cm (5/8 × 3 5/8 × 3 1/8 in.)
Gift of Charles Isaacs and Carol Nigro, in celebration of the Museum’s 150th Anniversary, 2019
The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Public domain

 

Alphonse Delaunay (French, 1827-1906) 'Patio de los Arrayanes, Alhambra, Granada, Spain' 1854

 

Alphonse Delaunay (French, 1827-1906)
Patio de los Arrayanes, Alhambra, Granada, Spain
1854
Albumen silver print from paper negative
10 in. × 13 5/8 in. (25.4 × 34.6cm)
Gift of W. Bruce and Delaney H. Lundberg, 2017
The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Public domain

 

 

One of the most talented students of famed French photographer Gustave Le Gray, Delaunay was virtually unknown before a group of his photographs appeared at auction in 2007. Subsequent research led to the identification of several bodies of work, including the documentation of contemporary events through instantaneous views captured on glass negatives. Delaunay also was a particular devotee of the calotype (or paper negative) process, with which he created his best pictures – including this view of the Alhambra. Among a group of pictures he made between 1851 and 1854 in Spain and Algeria, this view of the Patio de los Arrayanes reveals the extent to which Delaunay was able to manipulate the peculiarities of the paper negative. He revels in the graininess of the image, purposefully not masking out the sky before printing the negative, so that the marble tower appears somehow carved out of the very atmosphere that surrounds it. In contrast, the reflecting pool remains almost impossibly limpid, its dark surface offering a cool counterpart to the harsh Spanish sky.

 

Hippolyte Bayard (French, 1801-1887) '[Classical Head]' probably 1839

 

Hippolyte Bayard (French, 1801-1887)
[Classical Head]
probably 1839
Salted paper print
6 1/2 × 5 7/8 in. (16.5 × 15cm)
Purchase, Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation Gift, 2019
The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Public domain

 

 

This luminous head seems to materialise before our very eyes, as if we are observing the moment in which the latent photographic image becomes visible. Nineteenth-century eyewitnesses to Hippolyte Bayard’s earliest photographs (direct positives on paper) described a similarly enchanting effect, in which hazy outlines coalesced with light and tone to form charmingly faithful, if indistinct, images. These works, which Bayard referred to as essais (tests or trials), often included statues and busts, which he frequently arranged in elaborate tableaux. In this case, he photographed the lone subject (an idealised classical head) from the front and side, as if it were a scientific specimen. The singular object emerges as a relic from photography’s origins and now distant past.

 

William Henry Fox Talbot (British, Dorset 1800 - 1877 Lacock) 'Group Taking Tea at Lacock Abbey' August 17, 1843

 

William Henry Fox Talbot (British, Dorset 1800 – 1877 Lacock)
Group Taking Tea at Lacock Abbey
August 17, 1843
Salted paper print from paper negative
Mount: 9 15/16 in. × 13 in. (25.3 × 33cm)
Sheet: 7 3/8 × 8 15/16 in. (18.7 × 22.7cm)
Image: 5 in. × 7 1/2 in. (12.7 × 19 cm)
Bequest of Maurice B. Sendak, 2012
The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Public domain

 

 

Although Talbot’s groundbreaking calotype (paper negative) process allowed for more instantaneous image making, works such as this one nevertheless reflect the technical limitations of early photography. Here, he adapts painterly conventions to the new medium, staging a genre scene on his family estate. The stilted arrangement of figures – rigidly posed to produce a clear image – belies Talbot’s attempt to show action in progress. To achieve sufficient light exposure, he photographed the domestic tableau outdoors, arranging his subjects before a blank backdrop to create the illusion of interior space.

 

Unknown artist. '[Carte-de-visite Album of Collaged Portraits]' 1850s-60s

Unknown artist. '[Carte-de-visite Album of Collaged Portraits]' 1850s-60s

Unknown artist. '[Carte-de-visite Album of Collaged Portraits]' 1850s-60s

Unknown artist. '[Carte-de-visite Album of Collaged Portraits]' 1850s-60s

Unknown artist. '[Carte-de-visite Album of Collaged Portraits]' 1850s-60s

Unknown artist. '[Carte-de-visite Album of Collaged Portraits]' 1850s-60s

Unknown artist. '[Carte-de-visite Album of Collaged Portraits]' 1850s-60s

Unknown artist. '[Carte-de-visite Album of Collaged Portraits]' 1850s-60s

 

Unknown artist (American or Canadian)
[Carte-de-visite Album of Collaged Portraits]
1850s-60s
Albumen silver prints
5 15/16 × 5 1/8 × 2 1/16 in. (15.1 × 13 × 5.3cm)
Bequest of Herbert Mitchell, 2008
The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Public domain

 

 

Beginning in the late 1850s, cartes de visite, or small photographic portrait cards, were produced on a scale that put photography in the hands of the masses. This unusual collection of collages is ahead of its time in spoofing the rigidity of the format. The images play with scale and gender by juxtaposing cutout heads and mismatched sitters, thereby highlighting the difference between social identity – which was communicated in part through the exchange of calling cards – and individuality.

 

Unknown artist (American) '[Studio Photographer at Work]' c. 1855

 

Unknown artist (American)
[Studio Photographer at Work]
c. 1855
Salted paper print
Image: 5 1/8 × 3 13/16 in. (13 × 9.7cm)
Sheet: 9 1/2 × 5 5/8 in. (24.1 × 14.3cm)
William L. Schaeffer Collection, Promised Gift of Jennifer and Philip Maritz, in celebration of the Museum’s 150th Anniversary
The Metropolitan Museum of Art

 

 

In this evocative image, picture making takes centre stage. Underneath a canopy of dark cloth, the photographer poses as if to adjust the bellows of a large format camera. The view reflected on its ground glass would appear reversed and upside down. Viewers’ expectations are similarly overturned, because the photographer’s subject remains unseen.

 

Unknown artist (American) '[Boy Holding a Daguerreotype]' 1850s

 

Unknown artist (American)
[Boy Holding a Daguerreotype]
1850s
Daguerreotype with applied colour
Image: 3 1/4 × 2 3/4 in. (8.3 × 7cm)
William L. Schaeffer Collection, Promised Gift of Jennifer and Philip Maritz, in celebration of the Museum’s 150th Anniversary
The Metropolitan Museum of Art

 

 

The boy in this picture clutches a cased image to his chest, as if to illustrate his affection for the subject depicted within. Daguerreotypes were a novel form of handheld picture, portable enough to slip into a pocket or palm. Portraits exchanged between friends and family could be kept close – a practice often mimed by sitters, who would pose for one daguerreotype while holding another.

 

James Fitzallen Ryder (American, 1826-1904) 'Locomotive James McHenry (58), Atlantic and Great Western Railway' 1862

 

James Fitzallen Ryder (American, 1826-1904)
Locomotive James McHenry (58), Atlantic and Great Western Railway
1862
Albumen silver print
Image: 7 3/8 × 9 1/4 in. (18.7 × 23.5cm)
Mount: 10 × 13 in. (25.4 × 33cm)
William L. Schaeffer Collection, Promised Gift of Jennifer and Philip Maritz, in celebration of the Museum’s 150th Anniversary
The Metropolitan Museum of Art

 

 

In spring 1862, the chief engineer in charge of building the Atlantic and Great Western Railway – which ran from Salamanca, New York, to Akron, Ohio, and from Meadville to Oil City, Pennsylvania – engaged James Ryder to make photographs that would convince shareholders of the worthiness of the project. Ryder’s assignment was “to photograph all the important points of the work, such as excavations, cuts, bridges, trestles, stations, buildings and general character of the country through which the road ran, the rugged and the picturesque.” In a converted railroad car kitted out with a darkroom, water tank, and developing sink, he processed photographs that make up one of the earliest rail surveys.

 

Attributed to Josiah Johnson Hawes (American, Wayland, Massachusetts 1808 - 1901 Crawford Notch, New Hampshire) Winter on the Common, Boston' 1850s

 

Attributed to Josiah Johnson Hawes (American, Wayland, Massachusetts 1808 – 1901 Crawford Notch, New Hampshire)
Winter on the Common, Boston
1850s
Salted paper print
Window: 6 15/16 × 8 15/16 in. (17.6 × 22.7cm)
Mat: 16 × 20 in. (40.6 × 50.8cm)
William L. Schaeffer Collection, Promised Gift of Jennifer and Philip Maritz, in celebration of the Museum’s 150th Anniversary
The Metropolitan Museum of Art

 

 

Having originally set his sights on a career as a painter, Josiah Hawes gave up his brushes for a camera upon first seeing a daguerreotype in 1841. Two years later, he joined Albert Sands Southworth in Boston to form the celebrated photographic studio Southworth & Hawes. Turning to paper-based photography in the early 1850s, Hawes frequently depicted local scenery. This surprising picture, which presents Boston Common through a veil of snow-laden branches, shows that Hawes brought his creative ambitions to the nascent art of photography.

 

 

Carleton E. Watkins (American, 1829-1916)
[California Oak, Santa Clara Valley]
c. 1863
Albumen silver print
Image: 12 in. × 9 5/8 in. (30.5 × 24.5cm)
Mount: 21 1/4 in. × 17 5/8 in. (54 × 44.8cm)
William L. Schaeffer Collection, Promised Gift of Jennifer and Philip Maritz, in celebration of the Museum’s 150th Anniversary
The Metropolitan Museum of Art

 

 

For viewers today, the crown of this majestic oak tree, with its complex network of branches, might evoke the allover paintings of Abstract Expressionism with their layers of dripped paint. As photographed by Carleton Watkins, the dark, flattened silhouette of the tree feathers out across the camera’s field of view. The sloped horizon line, uncommon in Watkins’s output, both echoes the ridge in the distance and grounds the energy of the tree canopy, ably demonstrating his masterful command of pictorial composition.

 

George Wilson Bridges (British, 1788-1864) 'Garden of Selvia, Syracuse, Sicily' 1846

 

George Wilson Bridges (British, 1788-1864)
Garden of Selvia, Syracuse, Sicily
1846
Salted paper print from paper negative
Image: 6 15/16 × 8 9/16 in. (17.7 × 21.7cm)
Sheet: 7 5/16 × 8 13/16 in. (18.5 × 22.4cm)
Bequest of Maurice B. Sendak, 2012
The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Public domain

 

 

The monk’s gesture of prayer in this image by George Wilson Bridges is a touchstone of stillness against the impressive landscape and vegetation that rise up behind him. Bridges was an Anglican reverend and friend of William Henry Fox Talbot, the inventor of the calotype (paper negative), who instructed him on the method before it was patented. Bridges was also one of the earliest photographers to embark upon a tour of the Mediterranean region; he wrote to Talbot that he conceived of the excursion both as a technical mission to advance photography and as a pilgrimage to collect imagery of religious sites.

 

Pietro Dovizielli (Italian, 1804-1885) '[Spanish Steps, Rome]' c. 1855

 

Pietro Dovizielli (Italian, 1804-1885)
[Spanish Steps, Rome]
c. 1855
Albumen silver print from glass negative
Image: 14 11/16 × 11 5/16 in. (37.3 × 28.8cm)
Sheet: 24 7/16 × 18 7/8 in. (62 × 48cm)
Gift of W. Bruce and Delaney H. Lundberg, in celebration of the Museum’s 150th Anniversary, 2019
The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Public domain

 

 

Made in late afternoon light, Pietro Dovizielli’s picture shows a long shadow cast onto Rome’s Piazza di Spagna that almost obscures one of the market stalls flanking the base of the famed Spanish Steps. Rising above the sea of stairs is the church of Trinità dei Monti, its facade neatly bisected by the Sallustiano obelisk. In the piazza, a lone figure – the only visible inhabitant of this eerily empty public square – rests against the railing of the Barcaccia fountain. Keenly composed pictures like this led reviewers of Dovizielli’s photographs to proclaim them “the very paragons of architectural photography.”

 

Edouard Baldus (French (born Prussia), 1813-1889) '[Amphitheater, Nîmes]' c. 1853

 

Edouard Baldus (French (born Prussia), 1813-1889)
[Amphitheater, Nîmes]
c. 1853
Salted paper print from paper negative
Overall: 12 3/8 × 15 3/16 in. (31.5 × 38.5cm)
Gift of Joyce F. Menschel, in celebration of the Museum’s 150th Anniversary, 2019
The Metropolitan Museum of Art

 

 

Instead of photographing the entire arena in Nîmes, as he had two years earlier, Baldus focusses here on a section of the façade, playing the superimposed arches against the vertical, shadowed pylons in the foreground. The resulting composition manages to isolate and monumentalise the architecture, while creating a rhythmic play of light and dark that energises the picture. The photograph was part of a massive, four-year project, Villes de France photographiées, in which the views from the south of France were said to surpass all of the photographer’s previous work in the region.

 

William Henry Fox Talbot (British, Dorset 1800-1877 Lacock) 'View of the Boulevards of Paris' 1843

 

William Henry Fox Talbot (British, Dorset 1800 – 1877 Lacock)
View of the Boulevards of Paris
1843
Salted paper print from paper negative
Mount: 9 in. × 10 1/16 in. (22.8 × 25.6cm)
Sheet: 7 3/8 × 10 1/8 in. (18.7 × 25.7cm)
Image: 6 5/16 × 8 1/2 in. (16.1 × 21.6cm)
Bequest of Maurice B. Sendak, 2012
The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Public domain

 

 

In May 1843 Talbot traveled to Paris to negotiate a licensing agreement for the French rights to his patented calotype process. His invention used a negative-positive system and a paper base – not a copper support as in a daguerreotype. Although his negotiations were not fruitful, Talbot’s views of the elegant new boulevards of the French capital were highly successful.

Filled with the incidental details of urban life, architectural ornamentation, and the play of spring light, this photograph appears as the second plate in Talbot’s groundbreaking publication The Pencil of Nature (1844). The chimney posts on the roofline of the rue de la Paix, the waiting horses and carriages, and the characteristically French shuttered windows evoke as vivid a notion of mid-nineteenth-century Paris now as they must have 170 years ago.

 

Lewis Dowe (American, active 1860s-1880s) '[Dowe's Photograph Rooms, Sycamore, Illinois]' 1860s

 

Lewis Dowe (American, active 1860s-1880s)
[Dowe’s Photograph Rooms, Sycamore, Illinois]
1860s
Albumen silver print
Image: 5 7/8 × 7 5/8 in. (14.9 × 19.3cm)
Mount: 8 × 10 in. (20.3 × 25.4cm)
William L. Schaeffer Collection, Promised Gift of Jennifer and Philip Maritz, in celebration of the Museum’s 150th Anniversary
The Metropolitan Museum of Art

 

 

Above a bustling thoroughfare in Sycamore, Illinois, boldface lettering advertises the services of photographer Lewis Dowe, a portraitist who also published postcards and stereoviews. Easier to miss in the image is a mannequin perched above the awning to promote the studio. The flurry of activity below Dowe’s storefront and the prime location of the outfit, poised between a tailor and a saloon, speak to the important role of photography in town life.

 

E. & H. T. Anthony (American) '[Specimens of New York Bill Posting]' 1863

 

E. & H. T. Anthony (American)
[Specimens of New York Bill Posting]
1863
Albumen silver prints
Mount: 3 1/4 in. × 6 3/4 in. (8.3 × 17.1cm)
Image: 2 15/16 in. × 6 in. (7.5 × 15.3cm)
William L. Schaeffer Collection, Promised Gift of Jennifer and Philip Maritz, in celebration of the Museum’s 150th Anniversary
The Metropolitan Museum of Art

 

 

Benefit concerts, minstrel shows, lectures, and horse races all clamour for attention in this graphic field of broadsides posted in the Bowery neighbourhood of Manhattan. The stereograph format lends added depth and dimensionality to the layered fragments of text, transporting viewers to a hectic city sidewalk. Published for a national market, the scene indexes a precise moment in the summer of 1863, offering armchair tourists an inadvertent trend report on downtown cultural life.

 

Roger Fenton (British, 1819-1869) 'The Diamond and Wasp, Balaklava Harbour' March, 1855

 

Roger Fenton (British, 1819-1869)
The Diamond and Wasp, Balaklava Harbour
March, 1855
Albumen silver print from glass negative
Image: 8 in. × 10 1/8 in. (20.3 × 25.7 cm)
Mount: 19 5/16 × 24 3/4 in. (49 × 62.9 cm)
Gift of Thomas Walther Collection, in celebration of the Museum’s 150th Anniversary, 2019
The Metropolitan Museum of Art

 

 

Fenton’s view of the Black Sea port of Balaklava, which the British used as a landing point for their siege of Sevastopol during the Crimean War, shows a busy but orderly operation. The British naval ships, HMS Diamond and HMS Wasp, oversaw the management of transports into and out of the harbour, which explains the presence of ships and rowboats, as well as the large stack of crates near the rail track in the foreground. Against claims of “rough-and-tumble” mismanagement of Balaklava in the British press, Fenton (commissioned by a Manchester publisher to record the theatre of war) offers documentation of a well-functioning port.

 

Roger Fenton (British, 1819-1869) 'The Mamelon and Malakoff from front of Mortar Battery' April, 1855

 

Roger Fenton (British, 1819-1869)
The Mamelon and Malakoff from front of Mortar Battery
April, 1855
Salted paper print from glass negative
Image: 9 1/8 × 13 1/2 in. (23.1 × 34.3cm)
Sheet: 14 3/4 × 17 13/16 in. (37.5 × 45.3cm)
Gift of Joyce F. Menschel, in celebration of the Museum’s 150th Anniversary, 2019
The Metropolitan Museum of Art

 

 

Fenton’s extensive documentation of the Crimean War – the first use of photography for that purpose – was a commercial endeavour that did not include pictures of battle, the wounded, or the dead. His unprepossessing view of a vast rocky valley instead discloses, in the distance, a site of crucial strategic importance. Fort Malakoff, the general designation of Russian fortifications on two hills (Mamelon and Malakoff) is just perceptible at the horizon line. Malakoff’s capture by the French in September 1855, five months after Fenton made this photograph, ended the eleven-month siege of Sevastopol and was the final episode of the war.

 

Felice Beato (British (born Italy), Venice 1832-1909 Luxor) and James Robertson (British, 1813-1881) [Dome of the Rock, Jerusalem] 1856-57

 

Felice Beato (British (born Italy), Venice 1832-1909 Luxor) and James Robertson (British, 1813-1881)
[Dome of the Rock, Jerusalem]
1856-57
Albumen silver print
Image: 9 in. × 11 1/4 in. (22.9 × 28.6cm)
Mount: 17 5/8 in. × 22 1/2 in. (44.8 × 57.2cm)
Gift of Joyce F. Menschel, 2013
The Metropolitan Museum of Art

 

 

This detailed print showing the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem provides a sense of the structure’s natural and architectural surroundings. Felice Beato depicted the religious site from a pilgrim’s point of view – walls and roads are given visual priority and stand between the viewer and the shrine. Holy sites such as this were the earliest and most common subjects of travel photography. Beato made multiple journeys to the Mediterranean and North Africa, and he is perhaps best known for photographing East Asia in the 1880s.

 

R.C. Montgomery (American, active 1850s) '[Self-Portrait (?)]' 1850s

 

R.C. Montgomery (American, active 1850s)
[Self-Portrait (?)]
1850s
Daguerreotype with applied colour
Image: 3 1/4 × 4 1/4 in. (8.3 × 10.8 cm)
William L. Schaeffer Collection, Promised Gift of Jennifer and Philip Maritz, in celebration of the Museum’s 150th Anniversary
The Metropolitan Museum of Art

 

 

The insouciant subject here may be the daguerreotypist himself, posing in bed for a promotional picture or a private joke. His rumpled suit and haphazard hairstyle affect intimacy, perhaps in an effort to showcase an informal portrait style. Because they required long exposure times, daguerreotypes often captured sitters at their most stilted. With this surprising picture, the maker might have hoped to attract clients who were in search of a more novel or natural likeness.

 

 

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

Opening hours:
Tuesday – Thursday: 9.30am – 5.30pm*
Friday – Saturday: 9.30am – 9.00pm*
Sunday: 9.30am – 5.30pm*
Closed Monday (except Met Holiday Mondays**), Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day

The Metropolitan Museum of Art website

LIKE ART BLART ON FACEBOOK

Back to top

16
May
20

European photographic research tour: V&A Photography Centre, London

Visited October 2019 posted May 2020

 

Unknown photographer. 'Photograph of Allied War exhibition, Serbian Section, V&A' 1917

 

Unknown photographer
Photograph of Allied War exhibition, Serbian Section, V&A (installation view)
1917
Gelatin silver print
The Royal Photographic Society Collection at the V&A Museum

 

 

The older I grow, the more exponentially I appreciate and love these early photographs. Imagine having a collection like this!

Wonderful to see Edward Steichen’s Portrait – Lady H (1908, below) as I have a copy of Camera Work 22 in my collection.

Dr Marcus Bunyan

.
All iPhone images by Dr Marcus Bunyan. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image.

 

 

 

 

The V&A has been collecting photographs since 1856, the year the Museum was founded, and it was one of the first museums to present photography exhibitions. Since then the collection has grown to be one of the largest and most important in the world, comprising around 500,000 images. The V&A is now honoured to have added the Royal Photographic Society (RPS) collection to its holdings, which contains around 270,000 photographs, an extensive library, and 6,000 cameras and pieces of equipment associated with leading artists and photographic pioneers.

Take a behind-the-scenes look at our world class photography collection following the transfer of the Royal Photographic Society (RPS) Collection, which has enabled a dramatic reimagining of the way photography is presented at the V&A. The photographs curators introduce a series of five highlights that are on display in the new Photography Centre, which opened on 12th October 2018. The first phase of the centre will more than double the space dedicated to photography at the Museum.

Text from the V&A and YouTube websites

 

Unknown photographer. 'Photograph of Allied War exhibition, Serbian Section, V&A' 1917

 

Unknown photographer
Photograph of Allied War exhibition, Serbian Section, V&A (installation view)
1917
Gelatin silver print
The Royal Photographic Society Collection at the V&A Museum

 

 

The V&A has been collecting and exhibiting photographs since the 1850s. This image shows part o a photographic exhibition held over 100 years ago in the same galleries you are standing in today. The exhibition presented a densely packed display of images depicting the Allied Powers during the First World War.

 

Installation view of the V&A Photography Centre, London

 

Installation view of the V&A Photography Centre, London

 

Installation view of the V&A Photography Centre, London

 

Installation view of the V&A Photography Centre, London

 

Installation view of the V&A Photography Centre, London

 

Installation view of the V&A Photography Centre, London

 

Installation views of the V&A Photography Centre, London

 

Joseph Nicéphore Niépce (French, 1765-1833) 'Christ Carrying his Cross' 1827

 

Joseph Nicéphore Niépce (French, 1765-1833) 'Christ Carrying his Cross' 1827

 

Joseph Nicéphore Niépce (French, 1765-1833)
Christ Carrying his Cross (installation views)
1827
Heliograph on pewter plate
The Royal Photographic Society Collection at the V&A Museum

 

 

The French inventor Niépce made the earliest surviving photographic images, which he called ‘heliographs’ or ‘sun-writing’. Only 16 are thought to still exist. Although Niépce experimented with light-sensitive plates inside a camera, he made most of his images, including this one, by placing engravings of works by other artists directly onto a metal plate. He would probably have had the resulting heliographs coated in ink and printed.

 

Joseph Nicéphore Niépce (French, 1765-1833) 'Christ Carrying his Cross' 1827

 

Joseph Nicéphore Niépce (French, 1765-1833)
Christ Carrying his Cross (installation view)
1827
Heliograph on pewter plate
The Royal Photographic Society Collection at the V&A Museum

 

David Octavius Hill (Scottish, 1802-70) and Robert Adamson (Scottish, 1821-48) 'The Adamson Family' 1843-45

 

David Octavius Hill (Scottish, 1802-70) and Robert Adamson (Scottish, 1821-48)
The Adamson Family (installation view)
1843-45
Salted paper print
The Royal Photographic Society Collection at the V&A Museum

 

 

The partnership between Scottish painter Hill and chemist Adamson merged the art and science of photography. The pair initially intended to create preliminary studies for Hill’s paintings, but soon recognised photography’s artistic potential. With Hill’s knowledge of composition and lighting, and Adamson’s considerable sensitivity and dexterity in handling the camera, together they produced some of the most accomplished photographic portraits of their time.

 

William Henry Fox Talbot (British, 1800-77) 'The Haystack' 1844

 

William Henry Fox Talbot (British, 1800-77)
The Haystack
1844
From The Pencil of Nature
Salted paper print
The Royal Photographic Society Collection at the V&A Museum

 

Benjamin Brecknell Turner (British, 1815-94) 'Hedgerow Trees, Clerkenleap' 1852-54

 

Benjamin Brecknell Turner (British, 1815-94) 'Hedgerow Trees, Clerkenleap' 1852-54

 

Benjamin Brecknell Turner (British, 1815-94)
Hedgerow Trees, Clerkenleap (installation views)
1852-54
Albumen print; Calotype negative
The Royal Photographic Society Collection at the V&A Museum

 

 

Turner took out a licence to practice ‘calotype’ photography from Talbot in 1848. He contact-printed positive images from paper negatives. The negative (below) and its corresponding positive (above) are reunited here to illustrate this process, but the pairing as you see them would not have been the photographer’s original intention for display. Although unique negatives were sometimes exhibited in their own right, only showing positive prints was the norm.

 

Benjamin Brecknell Turner (British, 1815-94) 'Hedgerow Trees, Clerkenleap' 1852-54

 

Benjamin Brecknell Turner (British, 1815-94)
Hedgerow Trees, Clerkenleap (installation view)
1852-54
Albumen print; Calotype negative
The Royal Photographic Society Collection at the V&A Museum

 

Gustave Le Gray (French, 1820-84) 'The Road to Chailly, Forest of Fontainebleau' 1852

 

Gustave Le Gray (French, 1820-84)
The Road to Chailly, Forest of Fontainebleau (installation view)
1852
Albumen print from a collodion glass negative
Bequeathed to the V&A by Chauncey Hare Townshend

 

Installation view of the V&A Photography Centre, London

 

Installation view of the V&A Photography Centre, London

 

Installation view of the V&A Photography Centre, London

 

Installation views of the V&A Photography Centre, London

 

Gustave Le Gray (French, 1820-84) 'The Marseillaise (The Departure of the Volunteers of 1792), by Francois Rude, 1833-35, Arc de Triomphe de l’Etoile, Paris' 1852

 

Gustave Le Gray (French, 1820-84)
The Marseillaise (The Departure of the Volunteers of 1792), by Francois Rude, 1833-35, Arc de Triomphe de l’Etoile, Paris (installation view)
1852
Albumen print
Bequeathed to the V&A by Chauncey Hare Townshend

 

Gustave Le Gray (French, 1820-84) 'The Marseillaise (The Departure of the Volunteers of 1792), by Francois Rude, 1833-35, Arc de Triomphe de l’Etoile, Paris' 1852

 

Gustave Le Gray (French, 1820-84)
The Marseillaise (The Departure of the Volunteers of 1792), by Francois Rude, 1833-35, Arc de Triomphe de l’Etoile, Paris (installation view)
1852
Albumen print
Bequeathed to the V&A by Chauncey Hare Townshend

 

Roger Fenton (British, 1819-69) 'Parian Vase, Grapes and Silver Cup' 1860

 

Roger Fenton (British, 1819-69)
Parian Vase, Grapes and Silver Cup (installation view)
1860
Albumen print
The Royal Photographic Society Collection at the V&A Museum

 

 

Fenton was one of the most versatile and technically brilliant photographers of the 19th century. He excelled at many subjects, including war photography, portraiture, architecture and landscape. He also made a series of lush still lives. Here, grapes, plums and peaches are rendered in exquisite detail, and the silver cup on the right reflects a camera tripod.

 

Roger Fenton (British, 1819-69) 'Parian Vase, Grapes and Silver Cup' 1860

 

Roger Fenton (British, 1819-69)
Parian Vase, Grapes and Silver Cup (installation view)
1860
Albumen print
The Royal Photographic Society Collection at the V&A Museum

 

Roger Fenton (British, 1819-69) 'Parian Vase, Grapes and Silver Cup' 1860

 

Roger Fenton (British, 1819-69)
Parian Vase, Grapes and Silver Cup (installation view)
1860
Albumen print
The Royal Photographic Society Collection at the V&A Museum

 

Roger Fenton (British, 1819-69) 'Parian Vase, Grapes and Silver Cup' 1860 (detail)

 

Roger Fenton (British, 1819-69)
Parian Vase, Grapes and Silver Cup (installation view detail)
1860
Albumen print
The Royal Photographic Society Collection at the V&A Museum

 

Roger Fenton (British, 1819-69) 'Still Life with Fruit and Decanter' 1860

 

Roger Fenton (British, 1819-69)
Still Life with Fruit and Decanter
1860
Albumen print
The Royal Photographic Society Collection at the V&A Museum

 

Oscar Gustaf Rejlander (British, born Sweden 1813-75) 'Head of St John the Baptist on a Charger' c. 1856

 

Oscar Gustaf Rejlander (British, born Sweden 1813-75)
Head of St John the Baptist on a Charger (installation view)
c. 1856
Albumen print
The Royal Photographic Society Collection at the V&A Museum

 

 

Rejlander probably intended this photograph to be part of a larger composition telling the biblical story of Salome, in which the severed head of John the Baptist was presented to her on a plate. Rejlander never made the full picture, however, and instead produced multiple prints of the head alone.

 

Oscar Gustaf Rejlander (British, born Sweden 1813-75) 'Head of St John the Baptist on a Charger' c. 1856

 

Oscar Gustaf Rejlander (British, born Sweden 1813-75)
Head of St John the Baptist on a Charger (installation view)
c. 1856
Albumen print
The Royal Photographic Society Collection at the V&A Museum

 

Francis Frith (British, 1822-98) 'Th', from Egypt, Sinai, and Jerusalem: A Series of Twenty Photographic Views by Francis Frith 1858 (published 1860 or 1862)

 

Francis Frith (British, 1822-98)
The Pyramids of Dahshoor [Dahshur], from the East, from Egypt, Sinai, and Jerusalem: A Series of Twenty Photographic Views by Francis Frith (installation view)
1858 (published 1860 or 1862)
Albumen print
The Royal Photographic Society Collection at the V&A Museum

 

 

Frith’s photographs were popular and circulated widely, both because of their architectural interest and because they often featured sites mentioned in the Bible. Photographs of places described in biblical stories brought a new level of realism to a Christian Victorian audience, previously only available through the interpretations of a painter or illustrator.

 

Francis Frith (British, 1822-98) 'Th', from Egypt, Sinai, and Jerusalem: A Series of Twenty Photographic Views by Francis Frith 1858 (published 1860 or 1862)

 

Francis Frith (British, 1822-98)
The Pyramids of Dahshoor [Dahshur], from the East, from Egypt, Sinai, and Jerusalem: A Series of Twenty Photographic Views by Francis Frith (installation view)
1858 (published 1860 or 1862)
Albumen print
The Royal Photographic Society Collection at the V&A Museum

 

Francis Frith (British, 1822-98) 'The Pyramids of Dahshoor [Dahshur], from the East, from Egypt, Sinai, and Jerusalem: A Series of Twenty Photographic Views by Francis Frith' 1858 (published 1860 or 1862)

 

Francis Frith (British, 1822-98)
The Pyramids of Dahshoor [Dahshur], from the East, from Egypt, Sinai, and Jerusalem: A Series of Twenty Photographic Views by Francis Frith
1858 (published 1860 or 1862)
Albumen print
The Royal Photographic Society Collection at the V&A Museum

 

Installation view of the V&A Photography Centre, London

 

Installation view of the V&A Photography Centre, London

 

Gustave Le Gray (French, 1820-84) 'Solar Effect in the Clouds – Ocean' 1856-59

 

Gustave Le Gray (French, 1820-84)
Solar Effect in the Clouds – Ocean (installation view)
1856-59
Albumen Print
Bequeathed to the V&A by Chauncey Hare Townshend

 

Gustave Le Gray (French, 1820-84) 'Solar Effect in the Clouds – Ocean' 1856-59

 

Gustave Le Gray (French, 1820-84)
Solar Effect in the Clouds – Ocean
1856-59
Albumen Print
Art Institute of Chicago
Creative Commons Zero (CC0)

 

Gustave Le Gray (French, 1820-84) 'The Imperial Yacht, La Reine Hortense, Le Havre' 1856-57

 

Gustave Le Gray (French, 1820-84)
The Imperial Yacht, La Reine Hortense, Le Havre (installation view)
1856-57
Albumen print
Bequeathed to the V&A by Chauncey Hare Townshend

 

Gustave Le Gray (French, 1820-84) 'The Imperial Yacht, La Reine Hortense, Le Havre' 1856-57

 

Gustave Le Gray (French, 1820-84)
The Imperial Yacht, La Reine Hortense, Le Havre (installation view)
1856-57
Albumen print
Bequeathed to the V&A by Chauncey Hare Townshend

 

Gustave Le Gray (French, 1820-84) 'The Imperial Yacht, La Reine Hortense, Le Havre' 1856-57

 

Gustave Le Gray (French, 1820-84)
The Imperial Yacht, La Reine Hortense, Le Havre
1856-57
Albumen print
The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Public domain

 

Gustave Le Gray (French, 1820-84) 'Pavilion Richelieu, Louvre, Paris' 1857-59

 

Gustave Le Gray (French, 1820-84)
Pavilion Richelieu, Louvre, Paris (installation view)
1857-59
Albumen print
Bequeathed to the V&A by Chauncey Hare Townshend

 

Gustave Le Gray (French, 1820-84) 'Pavilion Richelieu, Louvre, Paris' 1857-59

 

Gustave Le Gray (French, 1820-84)
Pavilion Richelieu, Louvre, Paris (installation view)
1857-59
Albumen print
Bequeathed to the V&A by Chauncey Hare Townshend

 

Roger Fenton (British, 1819-69) 'Balaclava from Guard’s Hill, the Crimea' 1855

 

Roger Fenton (British, 1819-69)
Balaclava from Guard’s Hill, the Crimea (installation view)
1855
Albumen print
Bequeathed to the V&A by Chauncey Hare Townshend

 

Roger Fenton (British, 1819-69) 'Balaclava from Guard’s Hill, the Crimea' 1855

 

Roger Fenton (British, 1819-69)
Balaclava from Guard’s Hill, the Crimea (installation view)
1855
Albumen print
Bequeathed to the V&A by Chauncey Hare Townshend

 

Julia Margaret Cameron (British, born India, 1815-1879) 'Lucia' 1864-65

 

Julia Margaret Cameron (British, born India, 1815-1879)
Lucia (installation view)
1864-65
Albumen print
The Royal Photographic Society Collection at the V&A Museum

 

Charles Lutwide Dodgson (also known as Lewis Carroll)(British, 1832-98) 'Tea Merchant (On Duty)' and 'Tea Merchant (Off Duty)' 1873

 

Charles Lutwide Dodgson (also known as Lewis Carroll)(British, 1832-98)
Tea Merchant (On Duty) and Tea Merchant (Off Duty) (installation view)
1873
Albumen prints
The Royal Photographic Society Collection at the V&A Museum

 

 

Lewis Carroll is best known as the author of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, but he was also an accomplished amateur photographer. Approximately half of his photographs are portraits of children, sometimes wearing foreign costumes or acting out scenes. Here, Alexandra ‘Xie’ Kitchen, his most frequent child sitter, poses in Chinese dress on a stack of tea chests.

 

Charles Lutwide Dodgson (also known as Lewis Carroll)(British, 1832-98) 'Tea Merchant (On Duty)' 1873

 

Charles Lutwide Dodgson (also known as Lewis Carroll)(British, 1832-98)
Tea Merchant (On Duty) (installation view)
1873
Albumen prints
The Royal Photographic Society Collection at the V&A Museum

 

Charles Lutwide Dodgson (also known as Lewis Carroll)(British, 1832-98) 'Tea Merchant (Off Duty)' 1873

 

Charles Lutwide Dodgson (also known as Lewis Carroll)(British, 1832-98)
Tea Merchant (Off Duty) (installation view)
1873
Albumen prints
The Royal Photographic Society Collection at the V&A Museum

 

Julia Margaret Cameron (British, born India, 1815-1879) 'Pomona' 1887

 

Julia Margaret Cameron (British, born India, 1815-1879)
Pomona (installation view)
1887
Albumen print
The Royal Photographic Society Collection at the V&A Museum

 

 

The South Kensington museum (now the V&A) was the only museum to collect and exhibit Julia Margaret Cameron’s during her lifetime. This is one of several studies she made of Alice Liddell, who as a child had modelled for the author and photographer Lewis Carroll and inspired his novel Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Cameron, Carroll and Liddell moved in overlapping artistic and intellectual circles. Here, surrounded by foliage, a grown-up Alice poses as the Roman goddess of orchards and gardens.

 

Julia Margaret Cameron (British, born India, 1815-1879) 'Pomona' 1887

 

Julia Margaret Cameron (British, born India, 1815-1879)
Pomona (installation view)
1887
Albumen print
The Royal Photographic Society Collection at the V&A Museum

 

 

Installation view of the V&A Photography Centre, London

 

Alvin Langdon Coburn (American 1882-1966) 'Frederick Holland Day' 1900

 

Alvin Langdon Coburn (American 1882-1966)
Frederick Holland Day (installation view)
1900
Gum platinum print
The Royal Photographic Society Collection at the V&A Museum

 

 

The British-American photographer Alvin Langdon Coburn enjoyed success on both sides of the Atlantic. Active in the early 20th century, he gained recognition from a young age as a talented photographer. His style ranged from the painterly softness of Pictorialism to the unusual vantage points and abstraction of Modernism. As well as being a practising photographer, Coburn was an avid collector. In 1930 he donated over 600 photographs to the Royal Photographic Society. The gift included examples of Coburn’s own work alongside that of his contemporaries, many of whom are now considered to be the most influential of their generation. Coburn also collected historic photographs, and was among the first in his time to rediscover and appreciate the work of 19th-century masters like Julia Margaret Cameron and Hill and Adamson.

 

Fredrick Holland Day (American, 1864-1933) 'Head of a Girl, Hampton, Virginia' 1905

 

Fredrick Holland Day (American, 1864-1933)
Head of a Girl, Hampton, Virginia (installation view)
1905
Gum platinum print
The Royal Photographic Society Collection at the V&A Museum

 

 

Day made this portrait when he visited the Hampton Institute in Virginia, which was founded after the American Civil War as a teacher-training school for freed slaves. The institute’s camera club invited Day to visit the school and critique the work of its students. Day’s friend and fellow photographer, Frederick Evans, donated this strikingly modern composition to the Royal Photographic Society in 1937.

 

Fredrick Holland Day (American, 1864-1933) 'Head of a Girl, Hampton, Virginia' 1905

 

Fredrick Holland Day (American, 1864-1933)
Head of a Girl, Hampton, Virginia (installation view)
1905
Gum platinum print
The Royal Photographic Society Collection at the V&A Museum

 

Fredrick Holland Day (American, 1864-1933) 'Head of a Girl, Hampton, Virginia' 1905

 

Fredrick Holland Day (American, 1864-1933)
Head of a Girl, Hampton, Virginia (installation view)
1905
Gum platinum print
The Royal Photographic Society Collection at the V&A Museum

 

Fredrick Holland Day (American, 1864-1933) 'Head of a Girl, Hampton, Virginia' 1905

 

Fredrick Holland Day (American, 1864-1933)
Head of a Girl, Hampton, Virginia
1905
Gum platinum print
The Royal Photographic Society Collection at the V&A Museum

 

Gertrude Käsebier (American, 1852-1934) 'The Letter' 1906

 

Gertrude Käsebier (American, 1852-1934)
The Letter
1906
Platinum print
The Royal Photographic Society Collection at the V&A Museum

 

 

Käsebier studied painting before opening a photography studio in New York. Her Pictorialist photographs often combine soft focus with experimental printing techniques. These sisters were dressed in historic costume for a ball, but their pose transforms a society portrait into a narrative picture. In a variant image, they turn to look at the framed silhouette on the wall.

 

Installation view of the V&A Photography Centre, London

 

Installation view of the V&A Photography Centre, London

 

Installation views of the V&A Photography Centre, London

 

Francis James Mortimer (British, 1874-1944) 'Alvin Langdon Coburn at the Opening of His One-Man Exhibition the Royal Photographic Society, London' 1906

 

Francis James Mortimer (British, 1874-1944)
Alvin Langdon Coburn at the Opening of His One-Man Exhibition the Royal Photographic Society, London (installation view)
1906
Carbon print
The Royal Photographic Society Collection at the V&A Museum

 

Annie Wardrope Brigman (American, 1869-1950) 'The Spirit of Photography' c. 1908

 

Annie Wardrope Brigman (American, 1869-1950)
The Spirit of Photography
c. 1908
Platinum print
The Royal Photographic Society Collection at the V&A Museum

 

Alvin Langdon Coburn (American 1882-1966) 'Kensington Gardens' 1910

 

Alvin Langdon Coburn (American 1882-1966)
Kensington Gardens
1910
Platinum print
The Royal Photographic Society Collection at the V&A Museum

 

Cover of 'Camera Work'

 

Cover of Camera Work Number XXVI (installation view)

 

Edward Steichen (American, 1879-1973) 'Portrait – Lady H' 1908

 

Edward Steichen (American, 1879-1973)
Portrait – Lady H (installation view)
1908
Camera Work 22
1908
Photogravure
The Royal Photographic Society Collection at the V&A Museum

 

Edward Steichen (American, 1879-1973) 'Portrait – Lady H' 1908

 

Edward Steichen (American, 1879-1973)
Portrait – Lady H
1908
Camera Work 22
1908
Photogravure
The Royal Photographic Society Collection at the V&A Museum

 

Paul Strand (American, 1890-1976) 'New York' 1916

 

Paul Strand (American, 1890-1976)
New York (installation view)
1916
Camera Work 48
1916
Photogravure
The Royal Photographic Society Collection at the V&A Museum

 

 

Alfred Stieglitz (American, 1864-1946) was an American photographer, publisher, writer and gallery owner. From 1903-1917, he published the quarterly journal Camera Work, which featured portfolios of exquisitely printed photogravures (a type of photograph printed in ink), alongside essays and reviews. Camera Work promoted photography as an art form, publishing the work of Pictorialist photographers who drew inspiration from painting, and reproducing 19th-century photographs. It also helped to introduce modern art to American audiences, including works by radical European painters such as Matisse and Picasso.

 

Alvin Langdon Coburn (American 1882-1966) 'Vortograph' 1917

 

Alvin Langdon Coburn (American 1882-1966)
Vortograph (installation view)
1917
Bromide print
The Royal Photographic Society Collection at the V&A Museum

 

Rudolph Koppitz. 'Movement Study' 1925

 

Rudolph Koppitz (American, 1884-1936)
Bewegungsstudie (Movement Study)
1926
Carbon print
The Royal Photographic Society Collection at the V&A Museum

 

 

Koppitz was a leading art photographer in Vienna between the two World Wars, as well as a master of complex printing processes, including the pigment, gum and broccoli process of transfer printing. Tis dynamic and sensual composition captures dancers from the Vienna State Opera Ballet frozen mid-movement.

 

Herbert Bayer (Austrian American, 1900-85) 'Shortly Before Dawn' 1932-39

 

Herbert Bayer (Austrian American, 1900-85)
Shortly Before Dawn (installation view)
1932-39
Gelatin silver print
The Royal Photographic Society Collection at the V&A Museum

 

 

Bayer had a varied and influential career as a designer, painter, photographer, sculptor, art director and architect. He taught at the Bauhaus school in Dessau, Germany, and later began to use photomontage, both in his artistic and advertising work. Using this process, he combined his photographs with found imagery, producing surreal or dreamlike pictures.

 

Herbert Bayer (Austrian American, 1900-85) 'Shortly Before Dawn' 1932-39

 

Herbert Bayer (Austrian American, 1900-85)
Shortly Before Dawn (installation view)
1932-39
Gelatin silver print
The Royal Photographic Society Collection at the V&A Museum

 

Bernard Eilers (Dutch, 1878-1951) 'Reguliersbreestraat, Amsterdam' 1934

 

Bernard Eilers (Dutch, 1878-1951)
Reguliersbreestraat, Amsterdam (installation view)
1934
Foto-choma Eilers
Given by Joan Luckhurst Eilers

 

 

In the 1930s, the Dutch photographer Bernard Eilers developed an experimental new photographic colour separation process known as ‘Foto-chroma Eilers’. Although the process was short-lived, Eilers successfully used this technique to produce prints like this of great intensity and depth of colour. Here, the misty reflections and neon lights create an atmospheric but modern view of a rain-soaked Amsterdam at night.

 

Bernard Eilers (Dutch, 1878-1951) 'Reguliersbreestraat, Amsterdam' 1934

 

Bernard Eilers (Dutch, 1878-1951)
Reguliersbreestraat, Amsterdam (installation view)
1934
Foto-choma Eilers
Given by Joan Luckhurst Eilers

 

Edward Weston (American, 1886-1958) 'Valentine to Charis' 1935

 

Edward Weston (American, 1886-1958)
Valentine to Charis (installation view)
1935
Gelatin silver print
The Royal Photographic Society Collection at the V&A Museum

 

 

When Weston met the model and writer Charis Wilson in 1934, he was immediately besotted. This valentine to her contains a cluster of objects arranged as a still life, including the photographer’s camera lens and spectacles. Some of the objects seem to hold a special significance that only the lovers could understand. The numbers on the right possibly refer to their ages – there were almost thirty years between them.

 

Horst P. Horst (German-American, 1906-1999) 'Portrait of Gabrielle ('Coco') Chanel' 1937

 

Horst P. Horst (German-American, 1906-1999)
Portrait of Gabrielle (‘Coco’) Chanel
1937
Gelatin silver print
The Royal Photographic Society Collection at the V&A Museum

Variant, American Vogue, 1 December 1937, p. 86: ‘Fashion: Mid-Season Prophecies’

Caption reads: Chanel in her fitted, three-quarters coat / Mademoiselle Chanel, in one of her new coats that are making the news – a three quarters coat buttoned tightly and trimmed with astrakham like her cap. 01/12/1937

 

Nickolas Muray (American, 1892-1965) 'Women with headscarf, 'McCall’s' Cover, July 1938' 1938

 

Nickolas Muray (American, 1892-1965)
Women with headscarf, McCall’s Cover, July 1938 (installation view)
1938
Tricolour carbro print
The Royal Photographic Society Collection at the V&A Museum

 

Berenice Abbott (American, 1898-1991) 'Hardware Store' 1938

 

Berenice Abbott (American, 1898-1991)
Hardware Store (installation view)
1938
Gelatin silver print
The Royal Photographic Society Collection at the V&A Museum

 

 

Between 1935 and 1939, the Federal Art Project emptied Abbott to make a series of photographs entitled Changing New York, documenting the rapid development and urban transformation of the city. This picture shows the facade of a downtown hardware store, its wares arranged in a densely-packed window display with extend onto the pavement.

 

Berenice Abbott (American, 1898-1991) 'Hardware Store' 1938

 

Berenice Abbott (American, 1898-1991)
Hardware Store (installation view)
1938
Gelatin silver print
The Royal Photographic Society Collection at the V&A Museum

 

Berenice Abbott (American, 1898-1991) 'Hardware Store' 1938

 

Berenice Abbott (American, 1898-1991)
Hardware Store
1938
Gelatin silver print
The Royal Photographic Society Collection at the V&A Museum

 

Walker Evans (American, 1903-75) 'Photographs of African masks, from an exhibition entitled African Negro Art at the Museum of Modern Art, New York' 1935

 

Walker Evans (American, 1903-75)
Photographs of African masks, from an exhibition entitled African Negro Art at the Museum of Modern Art, New York (installation view)
1935
Gelatin silver prints
The Royal Photographic Society Collection at the V&A Museum

 

 

In 1935, the Museum of Modern Art commissioned Evans to photograph objects in its major exhibition of African art. Using his 8 x 10 inch view camera, he highlighted the artistry and detail of the objects, alternating between front, side and rear views. In total, Evans produced 477 images, and 17 complete sets of them were printed. Several of these sets were donated to colleges and libraries in America, and the V&A bought one set in 1936 to better represent African art in its collection.

The term ‘negro’ is given here in its original historical context.

 

Walker Evans (American, 1903-75) 'Photograph of African mask, from an exhibition entitled African Negro Art at the Museum of Modern Art, New York' 1935

 

Walker Evans (American, 1903-75)
Photograph of African mask, from an exhibition entitled African Negro Art at the Museum of Modern Art, New York (installation view)
1935
Gelatin silver prints
The Royal Photographic Society Collection at the V&A Museum

 

Walker Evans (American, 1903-75) 'Photograph of African mask, from an exhibition entitled African Negro Art at the Museum of Modern Art, New York' 1935

 

Walker Evans (American, 1903-75)
Photograph of African mask, from an exhibition entitled African Negro Art at the Museum of Modern Art, New York (installation view)
1935
Gelatin silver prints
The Royal Photographic Society Collection at the V&A Museum

 

Walker Evans (American, 1903-75) 'Photograph of African mask, from an exhibition entitled African Negro Art at the Museum of Modern Art, New York' 1935

 

Walker Evans (American, 1903-75)
Photograph of African mask, from an exhibition entitled African Negro Art at the Museum of Modern Art, New York (installation view)
1935
Gelatin silver prints
The Royal Photographic Society Collection at the V&A Museum

 

Bill Brandt (British, 1904-83) 'Dubuffet’s Right Eye, Alberto Giacometti’s Left Eye, Louise Nevelson’s Eye, Max Ernst’s Left Eye' 1960-63

 

Bill Brandt (British, 1904-83)
Dubuffet’s Right Eye
Alberto Giacometti’s Left Eye
Louise Nevelson’s Eye
Max Ernst’s Left Eye (installation view)
1960-63
Gelatin silver print
The Royal Photographic Society Collection at the V&A Museum

 

Bill Brandt (British, 1904-83) 'Dubuffet’s Right Eye' 1960-63

 

Bill Brandt (British, 1904-83)
Dubuffet’s Right Eye (installation view)
1960-63
Gelatin silver print
The Royal Photographic Society Collection at the V&A Museum

 

 

German-born Brandt moved to London in the 1930s. In his long and varied career, he made many compelling portraits of people including Ezra Pound, Dylan Thomas, the Sitwell family, Robert Graves and E.M. Forster. For this series he photographed the eyes of well-known artists over several years, creating a substantial collection of intense and unique portraits. The pictures play upon ideas of artistic vision and the camera lens, which acts as a photographer’s ‘mechanical eye’.

 

Josef Sudek (Czech, 1896-1976) 'Simple Still Life, Egg' 1950

 

Josef Sudek (Czech, 1896-1976)
Simple Still Life, Egg (installation view)
1950
Gelatin silver print
The Royal Photographic Society Collection at the V&A Museum

 

 

Throughout his career, Sudek used various photographic styles but always conveyed an intensely lyrical vision of the world. Here, his formal approach to a simple still life presents a poetic statement, and evokes an atmosphere of contemplation. Sudek’s motto and advice to his students – ‘hurry slowly’ – encapsulates his legendary patience and the sense of meditative stillness in his photographs.

 

Otto Steiner (German, 1915-78) 'Luminogram' 1952

 

Otto Steiner (German, 1915-78)
Luminogram (installation view)
1952
Gelatin silver print
The Royal Photographic Society Collection at the V&A Museum

 

Otto Steiner (German, 1915-78) 'Luminogram' 1952

 

Otto Steiner (German, 1915-78)
Luminogram (installation view)
1952
Gelatin silver print
The Royal Photographic Society Collection at the V&A Museum

 

Mark Cohen (American, b. 1943) 'True Color' 1974-87

 

Mark Cohen (American, b. 1943) 'True Color' 1974-87

 

Mark Cohen (American, b. 1943)
True Color (installation views)
1974-87
Portfolio of thirty dye transfer prints, printed in 2007
American Friends of the V&A through the generosity of The Michael G. and C. Jane Wilson 2007 Trust

 

 

Known for his dynamic street photography, Cohen’s work presents a fragmented, sensory image of his hometown of Wiles-Barre, Pennsylvania. This set of pictures was taken at a time when colour photography was just beginning to be recognised as a fine art. Until the 1970s, colour had largely been associated with other advertising or family snapshots, and was not thought of as a legitimate medium for artists. Cohen and other photographers like William Eggleston transferred this perception using the dye-transfer printing process. Although complicated and time-consuming, the technique results in vibrant and high quality colour prints.

 

Mark Cohen (American, b. 1943) 'True Color' 1974-87

 

Mark Cohen (American, b. 1943)
True Color (installation view detail)
1974-87
Portfolio of thirty dye transfer prints, printed in 2007
American Friends of the V&A through the generosity of The Michael G. and C. Jane Wilson 2007 Trust

 

Mark Cohen (American, b. 1943) 'True Color' 1974-87

 

Mark Cohen (American, b. 1943)
True Color (installation view detail)
1974-87
Portfolio of thirty dye transfer prints, printed in 2007
American Friends of the V&A through the generosity of The Michael G. and C. Jane Wilson 2007 Trust

 

Graham Smith (British, b. 1947) 'What she wanted & who she got' 1982

 

Graham Smith (British, b. 1947)
What she wanted & who she got (installation view)
1982
Gelatin silver print
The Royal Photographic Society Collection at the V&A Museum

 

 

Since the 1980s, Graham Smith has been photographing his hometown of South Bank near Middlesbrough. His images convey his deep sensitivity towards the effects of changing working conditions on the former industrial north-east. In this photograph, despite the suggested humour of the title, we are left wondering who the couple are and what the nature of their relationship might be.

 

Jan Kempenaers (b. 1968) 'Spomenik #3' 2006

 

Jan Kempenaers (b. 1968)
Spomenik #3
2006
C-type print

The Kosmaj monument in Serbia is dedicated to soldiers of the Kosmaj Partisan detachment from World War II.

 

Jan Kempenaers (b. 1968) 'Spomenik #4' 2007

 

Jan Kempenaers (b. 1968)
Spomenik #4
2007
C-type print

This monument, authored by sculptor Miodrag Živković, commemorates the Battle of Sutjeska, one of the bloodiest battles of World War II in the former Yugoslavia.

 

 

Kempenaers toured the balkans photographing ’Spomeniks’ – monuments built in former Yugoslavia in the 1960s and ’70s on the sites of Second World War battles and concentration camps. Some have been vandalised in outpourings of anger against the former regime, while others are well maintained. In Kempenaers’ photographs, the monuments appear otherworldly, as if dropped from outer space into a pristine landscape.

 

Installation view of the V&A Photography Centre, London

 

Installation view of the V&A Photography Centre, London

 

 

Victoria and Albert Museum
Cromwell Road
London
SW7 2RL
Phone: +44 (0)20 7942 2000

Opening hours:
Daily 10.00 – 17.30
Friday 10.00 – 21.30

V&A website

V&A Photography Centre website

LIKE ART BLART ON FACEBOOK

Back to top

14
Mar
20

Exhibition: ‘Liquid Light: 500 Years of Venetian Glass’ at at NGV International, Melbourne

Exhibition dates: 8th March 2019 – 13th April 2020

*PLEASE NOTE THE NATIONAL GALLERY OF VICTORIA IS NOW TEMPORARILY CLOSED UNTIL AT LEAST 13 APRIL 2020 DUE TO THE CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC*

 

Italy, Venice (manufacturer) 'Bowl' c. 1736

 

Italy, Venice (manufacturer)
Bowl
c. 1736
Glass (latticinio)
6.1 x 12.0 cm diameter
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne Purchased, 1871

 

 

I love art glass, glass art: either old or contemporary, Italian, Scandinavian or Australian, it doesn’t matter. I have a collection of contemporary art glass myself. This love of glass comes from my parents who took us kids to see glass blowing on the island of Mallorca when we were growing up. Our house had numerous pieces of beautiful mouth blown glass brought back from the Balearic Islands.

My favourite period for Italian glass is the 1960s. My favourite techniques are the use of ‘millefiori’ (the production of glass canes or rods, known as ‘murrine’, with multicoloured patterns which are viewable only from the cut ends of the cane), latticinio (which resembles lace) and vetro a retorti (twisted glass). Venetian mirrors and chandeliers are another love: imagine them twinkling in the candlelight when there was no electricity!

Glass is such a malleable medium. The results can look effortless, sublime… but only after years of experience and experimentation by the artist. The delicacy, colour, iridescence, form and strength (of purpose) of glass is mesmerising. Words are not enough.

Dr Marcus Bunyan

.
Many thankx to the National Gallery of Victoria for allowing me to publish the photographs in the posting. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image.

 

 

Italy, Venice / Spain (manufacturer) 'Jug' Mid 16th century

 

Italy, Venice / Spain (manufacturer)
Jug
Mid 16th century
Glass (vetro a retorti decoration)
16.6 x 14.2 x 9.4 cm
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Purchased through The Art Foundation of Victoria with the assistance of Mrs Margaret Stewart, Founder Benefactor, 1987

 

Italy, Venice (manufacturer) 'Oil and vinegar cruet' c. 1680

 

Italy, Venice (manufacturer)
Oil and vinegar cruet
c. 1680
Glass (applied decoration)
23.0 x 11.3 x 9.5 cm
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne William and Margaret Morgan Endowment, 1973

 

Installation view of 'Serpent-stem goblet (Flügelglas)' (early 17th century), The Netherlands, Holland / Germany (manufacturer)

 

Installation view of Serpent-stem goblet (Flügelglas), (early 17th century), The Netherlands, Holland / Germany (manufacturer) on display as part of Liquid Light: 500 Years of Venetian Glass at NGV International from 8 March 2018 – 13 April 2020
Photo: Tom Ross

 

The Netherlands, Holland / Germany. 'Serpent-stem goblet (Flügelglas)' early 17th century

 

The Netherlands, Holland / Germany
Serpent-stem goblet (Flügelglas)
Early 17th century
Glass (façon de Venise), (red and white threads, applied and pincered decoration)
28.3 x 10.0 cm diameter
Felton Bequest, 1977
Photo: Victoria Zschommler

 

Italy, Venice (manufacturer) 'Tazza' 18th century

 

Italy, Venice (manufacturer)
Tazza
18th century
Glass
2.3 x 17.1 cm diameter
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne Purchased, 1871

 

Installation view of 'Tazza' 18th century, Italy, Venice (manufacturer)

 

Installation view of Tazza, 18th century, Italy, Venice (manufacturer) on display as part of Liquid Light: 500 Years of Venetian Glass at NGV International from 8 March 2018 – 13 April 2020
Photo: Tom Ross

 

Installation view of 'Liquid Light: 500 Years of Venetian Glass' on display at NGV International

 

Left to right

Giuseppe Briati (Italian 1686-1772) (manufacturer)
Bowl
c. 1736
Glass (latticinio)
6.1 x 12.0 cm diameter
Purchased, 1871

Italy, Venice
Decanter
c. 1800
Glass
(a-b) 36.5 x 7.3 cm diameter (overall)
Purchased, 1919

Venice and Murano Glass and Mosaic Company, Venice (manufacturer) Italian est. 1859
Wine glass
c. 1880
Glass
16.5 x 6.9 cm diameter
Photo: Victoria Zschommler

 

Italy, Venice (manufacturer) 'Vase' 18th century

 

Italy, Venice (manufacturer)
Vase
18th century
Glass
14.9 x 11.6 x 8.0 cm
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne Purchased, 1871

 

Installation view of 'Liquid Light: 500 Years of Venetian Glass' on display at NGV International

 

Clockwise from left

Italy, Venice
Vase
18th century
Glass
14.9 x 11.6 x 8.0 cm
Purchased, 1871

Italy, Venice
Covered bowl
18th century
Glass
(a-b) 14.2 x 13.2 x 12.0 cm (overall)
Purchased, 1871

Italy, Venice
Goblet
c. 1794
Glass, silver
12.0 x 10.7 cm diameter
Purchased, 1871
Photo: Victoria Zschommler

 

Italy, Venice (manufacturer) 'Beaker' Late 18th century

 

Italy, Venice (manufacturer)
Beaker
Late 18th century
Glass (enamel, gilt)
10.5 x 8.0 cm diameter
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne Purchased, 1871

 

Italy, Venice (manufacturer) 'Covered bowl and stand' late 18th century

 

Italy, Venice (manufacturer)
Covered bowl and stand
Late 18th century
Glass (applied decoration)
(a-c) 14.0 x 15.2 cm diameter (overall)
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne Purchased, 1871

 

Venice And Murano Glass And Mosaic Company, Venice (manufacturer) Italy est. 1859 'Ewer' c. 1870

 

Venice And Murano Glass And Mosaic Company, Venice (manufacturer) Italy est. 1859
Ewer
c. 1870
Glass
15.9 x 6.6 x 6.1 cm
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne Purchased, 1874

 

Venice And Murano Glass And Mosaic Company, Venice (manufacturer) Italy est. 1859 'Goblet' c. 1878

 

Venice And Murano Glass And Mosaic Company, Venice (manufacturer) Italy est. 1859
Goblet
c. 1878
Glass
17.4 x 9.9 cm diameter
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne Purchased, 1881

 

Venice And Murano Glass And Mosaic Company, Venice (manufacturer) Italy est. 1859 'Decanter' c. 1880

 

Venice And Murano Glass And Mosaic Company, Venice (manufacturer) Italy est. 1859
Decanter
c. 1880
Glass
(a-b) 23.6 x 12.9 x 11.2 cm (overall)
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne Purchased, 1881

 

Installation view of 'Liquid Light: 500 Years of Venetian Glass' on display at NGV International

Installation view of 'Liquid Light: 500 Years of Venetian Glass' on display at NGV International

 

Installation view of Tazza, 18th century, Italy, Venice (manufacturer) on display as part of Liquid Light: 500 Years of Venetian Glass at NGV International from 8 March 2018 – 13 April 2020
Photo: Tom Ross

 

Venice and Murano Glass and Mosaic Company, Venice (manufacturer) Italy est. 1859 'Ewer' c. 1880

 

Venice and Murano Glass and Mosaic Company, Venice (manufacturer) Italy est. 1859
Ewer
c. 1880
Glass
24.7 x 12.1 x 9.9 cm
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne Gift of John H. Connell, 1914

 

Venice And Murano Glass And Mosaic Company, Venice (manufacturer) Italy est. 1859 'Jug' c. 1880

 

Venice And Murano Glass And Mosaic Company, Venice (manufacturer) Italy est. 1859
Jug
c. 1880
Glass
27.2 x 13.3 x 10.7 cm
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne Gift of John H. Connell, 1914

 

 

Venetian glass is famous throughout the world for its vibrant colour and crystalline clarity, elaborate design and unmatched craftsmanship, honed over hundreds of years by local artisans on the island of Murano in Venice, Italy.

Liquid Light: 500 Years of Venetian Glass draws upon the National Gallery of Victoria’s extensive holdings of Venetian glass, ranging in date from the sixteenth to the twentieth century, including the NGV’s especially rich material from the nineteenth-century revival period.

In displays exploiting the characteristic brilliance and vivid colour palette of Murano glass, the exhibition traverses five centuries of style – from Baroque to post-modernism – through a display of glassware, including elaborate champagne flutes and goblets, bowls and vases, tableware and decorative objects.

Highlights from the exhibition include an opulent Serpent-stem goblet from the early seventeenth century, replete with intertwining dragons that coil around its stem, and a bottle-shaped Patchwork vase by Fulvio Bianconi, c. 1950, created by masterfully fusing blocks of coloured glass into a kaleidoscope of colour.

The exhibition will showcase the Venetians’ technical prowess through considered displays of the famous cristallo body, known for its transparent, watery fineness, as well as lattimo, a milky, white glass coveted for its resemblance to porcelain, and vetro a filigrana – glasses decorated with fine white threads twisted into elaborate patterns.

Though the secret formula for Venetian glass was heavily guarded on Murano, its qualities were emulated by major European glasshouses, particularly in the Netherlands. Through exquisite displays of ‘façon de Venise’ glass, the exhibition will celebrate the indelible impact and legacy of Venetian glass on glassblowing world-wide.

Venetian glass experienced a major revival in the nineteenth-century as Venice became part of the newly unified Kingdom of Italy. The unification sparked the restoration of traditional Italian industries, including the Muranese glass industry, which enjoyed a resurgence in connoisseurship and supremacy.

In 1871 a large collection of Venetian glass was acquired by the NGV directly from Venice by the proconsul to the Kingdom of Italy, and a further group of works was acquired in 1874, from the manufactory of Antonio Salviati, the father of the Venetian glass revival. Further important groups of nineteenth-century Venetian glass entered the Collection from the Italian displays at the 1880-81 Melbourne International Exhibition.

Tony Ellwood AM, Director, NGV said, ‘The first examples of Venetian glass entered the NGV Collection nearly 150 years ago. This exhibition will celebrate not only the breadth and beauty of the glassware in the NGV Collection, but also the rich legacy of the art form from the sixteenth century to today.’

Press release from the National Gallery of Victoria [Online] Cited 13/02/2020

 

Venice and Murano Glass and Mosaic Company, Venice (manufacturer) Italy est. 1859 'Chalice' c. 1880

 

Venice and Murano Glass and Mosaic Company, Venice (manufacturer) Italy est. 1859
Chalice
c. 1880
Glass (pincered and applied decoration)
30.0 x 10.3 cm diameter
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne Purchased, 1881

 

Venice And Murano Glass And Mosaic Company, Venice (manufacturer) Italy est. 1859 'Kuttrolf' c. 1880

 

Venice And Murano Glass And Mosaic Company, Venice (manufacturer) Italy est. 1859
Kuttrolf
c. 1880
Glass
21.6 x 10.9 cm diameter
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne Purchased, 1881

 

Installation view of 'Kuttrolf' c. 1880, Venice and Murano Glass and Mosaic Company, Venice (manufacturer)

 

Installation view of Kuttrolf, c. 1880, Venice and Murano Glass and Mosaic Company, Venice (manufacturer) on display as part of Liquid Light: 500 Years of Venetian Glass at NGV International from 8 March 2018 – 13 April 2020
Photo: Tom Ross

 

Venice And Murano Glass And Mosaic Company, Venice (manufacturer) Italy est. 1859 'Goblet' c. 1880

 

Venice And Murano Glass And Mosaic Company, Venice (manufacturer) Italy est. 1859
Goblet
c. 1880
Glass
23.2 x 14.1 x 7.6 cm
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne Gift of John H. Connell, 1914

 

Installation view of 'Liquid Light: 500 Years of Venetian Glass' on display at NGV International

 

Installation view of Liquid Light: 500 Years of Venetian Glass on display at NGV International from 8 March 2018 – 13 April 2020 showing at centre, Goblet c. 1880 by the Venice And Murano Glass And Mosaic Company, Venice
Photo: Tom Ross

 

Venice and Murano Glass and Mosaic Company, Venice (manufacturer) Italy, est. 1859 'Covered goblet' c. 1880

 

Venice and Murano Glass and Mosaic Company, Venice (manufacturer) Italy, est. 1859
Covered goblet
c. 1880
Glass
(a-b) 29.1 x 15.4 x 10.8 (overall)
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne Purchased, 1881

 

Installation view of 'Liquid Light: 500 Years of Venetian Glass' on display at NGV International

 

Left to right

Venice and Murano Glass and Mosaic Company, Venice (manufacturer) Italian est. 1859
Covered goblet
c. 1880
Glass
(a-b) 29.1 x 15.4 x 10.8 (overall)
Purchased, 1881

Venice and Murano Glass and Mosaic Company, Venice (manufacturer) Italian est. 1859
Goblet
c. 1880
Glass
18.3 x 12.0 cm diameter
Purchased, 1881

Venice and Murano Glass and Mosaic Company, Venice (manufacturer) Italian est. 1859
Wine glass
c. 1880
Glass (blown, applied decoration)
11.7 x 6.8 x 5.9 cm
Purchased, 1881
Photo: Victoria Zschommler

 

Vetreria Fratelli Toso, Murano, Venice (attributed to) (manufacturer) Italy 1854-1901 'Vase' c. 1890-1900

 

Vetreria Fratelli Toso, Murano, Venice (attributed to) (manufacturer) Italy 1854-1901
Vase
c. 1890-1900
Glass (murrine decoration)
25.5 x 19.7 x 15.1 cm
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne Purchased, 1996

 

 

Millefiori

Millefiori is a glasswork technique which produces distinctive decorative patterns on glassware. The term millefiori is a combination of the Italian words “mille” (thousand) and “fiori” (flowers). Apsley Pellatt in his book Curiosities of Glass Making was the first to use the term “millefiori”, which appeared in the Oxford English Dictionary in 1849; prior to that, the beads were called mosaic beads. While the use of this technique long precedes the term “millefiori”, it is now most frequently associated with Venetian glassware.

The manufacture of mosaic beads can be traced to Ancient Roman, Phoenician and Alexandrian times. Canes, probably made in Italy, have been found as far away as 8th century archaeological sites in Ireland. Millefiori beads have been uncovered from digs at Sandby borg, Öland, Sweden, dating apparently from the late 5th or early 6th century. A piece of millefiori was found, along with unworked garnets, in a purse at the early 7th century Anglo-Saxon burial site at Sutton Hoo.

The technical knowledge for creating millefiori was lost by the eighteenth century, and the technique was not revived until the nineteenth century. Within several years of the technique’s rediscovery, factories in Italy, France and England were manufacturing millefiori canes. They were often incorporated into fine glass art paperweights.

Until the 15th century, Murano glass makers were only producing drawn Rosetta beads made from moulded Rosetta canes. Rosetta beads are made by the layering of a variable number of layers of glass of various colours in a mould, and by pulling the soft glass from both ends until the cane has reached the desired thickness. It is then cut into short segments for further processing.

The millefiori technique involves the production of glass canes or rods, known as murrine, with multicoloured patterns which are viewable only from the cut ends of the cane. A murrine rod is heated in a furnace and pulled until thin while still maintaining the cross section’s design. It is then cut into beads or discs when cooled.

Text from the Wikipedia website

 

Installation view of 'Liquid Light: 500 Years of Venetian Glass' on display at NGV International

Installation view of 'Liquid Light: 500 Years of Venetian Glass' on display at NGV International

 

Installation view of Liquid Light: 500 Years of Venetian Glass on display at NGV International from 8 March 2018 – 13 April 2020 showing at left, Goblet c. 1878 by the Venice and Murano Glass and Mosaic Company, Venice
Photo: Tom Ross

 

Venice and Murano Glass and Mosaic Company, Venice (manufacturer) Italian est. 1859 'Goblet' c. 1878

 

Venice and Murano Glass and Mosaic Company, Venice (manufacturer) Italian est. 1859
Goblet
c. 1878
Glass
15.1 x 14.1 diameter
Purchased, 1881
Photo: Victoria Zschommler

 

Installation view of 'Liquid Light: 500 Years of Venetian Glass' on display at NGV International

Installation view of 'Liquid Light: 500 Years of Venetian Glass' on display at NGV International

Installation view of 'Liquid Light: 500 Years of Venetian Glass' on display at NGV International

 

Installation view of Liquid Light: 500 Years of Venetian Glass on display at NGV International from 8 March 2018 – 13 April 2020
Photo: Tom Ross

 

Installation view of 'Candelabrum' c. 1880, Venice and Murano Glass and Mosaic Company, Venice (manufacturer)

 

Installation view of Candelabrum, c. 1880, Venice and Murano Glass and Mosaic Company, Venice (manufacturer) on display as part of Liquid Light: 500 Years of Venetian Glass at NGV International from 8 March 2018 – 13 April 2020
Photo: Tom Ross

 

Installation view of 'Liquid Light: 500 Years of Venetian Glass' on display at NGV International

Installation view of 'Liquid Light: 500 Years of Venetian Glass' on display at NGV International

Installation view of 'Liquid Light: 500 Years of Venetian Glass' on display at NGV International

Installation view of 'Liquid Light: 500 Years of Venetian Glass' on display at NGV International

 

Installation view of Liquid Light: 500 Years of Venetian Glass on display at NGV International from 8 March 2018 – 13 April 2020
Photo: Tom Ross

 

Installation view of 'Tazza' c. 1880, Venice and Murano Glass and Mosaic Company, Venice (manufacturer)

 

Installation view of Tazza, c. 1880, Venice and Murano Glass and Mosaic Company, Venice (manufacturer) on display as part of Liquid Light: 500 Years of Venetian Glass at NGV International from 8 March 2018 – 13 April 2020. Photo: Tom Ross

 

Venice and Murano Glass and Mosaic Company, Venice (manufacturer) Italian est. 1859 'Tazza' c. 1880

 

Venice and Murano Glass and Mosaic Company, Venice (manufacturer) Italian est. 1859
Tazza
c. 1880
Glass (applied decoration)
23.4 x 22.3 cm diameter
Purchased, 1881
Photo: Victoria Zschommler

 

Installation view of 'Liquid Light: 500 Years of Venetian Glass' on display at NGV International

 

Left to right

Venice and Murano Glass and Mosaic Company, Venice (manufacturer) Italian est. 1859
Ewer
c. 1880
Glass (blown, applied decoration)
25.8 x 9.9 x 9.2 cm
Purchased, 1881

Venice and Murano Glass and Mosaic Company, Venice (manufacturer) Italian est. 1859
Ewer
c. 1880
Glass (blown, applied decoration)
26.0 x 9.7 cm diamater
Purchased, 1881
Photo: Victoria Zschommler

 

Installation view of 'Liquid Light: 500 Years of Venetian Glass' on display at NGV International

 

Left to right

Venice and Murano Glass and Mosaic Company, Venice (manufacturer) Italian est. 1859
Goblet
c. 1870
Glass
14.1 x 10.2 x 9.4 cm
Purchased, 1881

Venice and Murano Glass and Mosaic Company, Venice (manufacturer) Italian est. 1859
Goblet
c. 1880
Glass (pincered and applied decoration)
28.7 x 9.9 cm diameter
Purchased, 1881
Photo: Victoria Zschommler

 

Installation view of 'Liquid Light: 500 Years of Venetian Glass' on display at NGV International

 

Clockwise from left

Venice and Murano Glass and Mosaic Company, Venice (manufacturer) Italian est. 1859
Tazza
c. 1880
Glass
11.9 x 14.2 cm diameter
Purchased, 1881

Venice and Murano Glass and Mosaic Company, Venice (manufacturer) Italian est. 1859
Goblet
c. 1878
Glass
19.7 x 12.4 cm diameter
Purchased, 1881

Venice and Murano Glass and Mosaic Company, Venice (manufacturer) Italian est. 1859
Vase
c. 1880
Glass
13.2 x 8.8 x 7.9 cm
Purchased, 1881
Photo: Victoria Zschommler

 

Installation view of 'Liquid Light: 500 Years of Venetian Glass' on display at NGV International

 

Venice and Murano Glass and Mosaic Company, Venice (manufacturer) Italian est. 1859
Bottle
c. 1878
Glass
(a-b) 16.0 x 13.1 x 11.8 cm (overall)
Purchased, 1881
Photo: Victoria Zschommler

 

Venini & Co., Murano (manufacturer) Italy est. 1921 Fulvio Bianconi (designer) (Italy 1915-96) 'Handkerchief (Fazzoletto) vase' 1949

 

Venini & Co., Murano (manufacturer) Italy est. 1921
Fulvio Bianconi (designer) (Italy 1915-96)
Handkerchief (Fazzoletto) vase
1949 designed, c. 1950-60 manufactured
Glass (vetro a fili decoration)
19.8 x 34.0 x 21.7 cm
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne Purchased from Admission Funds, 1989

 

Installation view of 'Liquid Light: 500 Years of Venetian Glass' on display at NGV International

 

Clockwise from right

Vetreria Fratelli Toso, Murano, Venice (Italian 1854-1901) (manufacturer)
Vase
c. 1890-1900
Glass (murrine decoration)
25.5 x 19.7 x 15.1 cm
Purchased, 1996

Richard Marquis (American born 1945) (designer)
Non-functional teapot
1976
Glass (murrini (mosaic) decoration, applied decoration)
8.6 x 15.8 x 12.6 cm
Presented through The Art Foundation of Victoria by Terence Lane, Fellow, 1996

Venini & Co., Murano (Italian est. 1921) (manufacturer)
Fulvio Bianconi (Italian 1915-1996) (designer)
Patchwork (Pezzato) vase
c. 1950
Glass
36.6 x 14.6 x 10.9 cm
Felton Bequest, 1952
Photo: Victoria Zschomm

 

Venini & Co., Murano (manufacturer) Italy est. 1921 Fulvio Bianconi (designer) (Italy, 1915-96) 'Patchwork (Pezzato) vase' c. 1950

 

Venini & Co., Murano (manufacturer) Italy est. 1921
Fulvio Bianconi (designer) (Italy, 1915-96)
Patchwork (Pezzato) vase
c. 1950
Glass
36.6 x 14.6 x 10.9 cm
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne Felton Bequest, 1952

 

Installation view of 'Liquid Light: 500 Years of Venetian Glass' on display at NGV International

 

Installation view of Liquid Light: 500 Years of Venetian Glass on display at NGV International from 8 March 2018 – 13 April 2020
Photo: Tom Ross

 

 

NGV International
180 St Kilda Rd, Melbourne

Opening hours:
Open daily, 10am – 5pm

National Gallery of Victoria website

LIKE ART BLART ON FACEBOOK

Back to top

10
Jan
20

European research tour exhibition: ‘Into the Night: Cabarets and Clubs in Modern Art’ at the Barbican Art Gallery, UK Part 1

Exhibition dates: 4th October 2019 – 19th January 2020

Visited October 2019 posted January 2020

 

Installation view of the exhibition 'Into the Night: Cabarets and Clubs in Modern Art' at the Barbican Art Gallery

 

Installation view of the exhibition Into the Night: Cabarets and Clubs in Modern Art at the Barbican Art Gallery, London
Photo: Marcus Bunyan

 

 

I saw this exhibition in London in October, my last on my European research trip.

Having been a clubber since 1975, I was fascinated to see the history of cabarets and clubs in modern art. I remember going to gay clubs such as Scandals in Soho in the 1970s with their Saturday Night Fever lit up glass dance floor – except this one had a revolving glass turntable at its centre; or Adams under the the Leicester Square Odeon (I think it was the Odeon?) with walls padded and buttoned in red velvet, where they played the latest funk and international disco. Sylvester was the first out and out gay disco star, still beloved, who was taken from us by AIDS. And then there was Heaven, at the time of its opening in December 1979 the biggest gay club in Europe, housed in the arches beneath Charing Cross railway station – the site of many a debauched evening of gay disco, then hi-energy, and sex. We could dance for hours on that huge dance floor, under the lasers and neons, only leaving to get water at the bar, just dancing on pure energy, and then cruise the famous tunnels and bars of the club. Fabulous.

Getting back to the exhibition, Into the Night was a tale of two halves, as can be seen in the installation photographs. The upper level gallery at the Barbican was stirring, intoxicating, mesmerising, especially the sections on Vienna and the Cabaret Fledermaus (see below) and Berlin and the Weimar Nightlife 1920s-30s, always a favourite avant-garde era of mine (see part 2 of the posting). The lower level featured 3 separate rooms, recreations of the bar at the Cabaret Fledermaus; the Ciné-Dancing space of L’Aubette; and the shadow theatre of Chat Noir: interesting to see as a walk through but nothing more – then followed by some sparse sections on London’s Cave of the Golden Calf, Harlem’s Jazz Clubs and Cabarets and Tehran’s Rasht 29 (Part 2 of the posting). It felt to me as though the curators ran out of money / time? objects? and curatorial inspiration for the last sections of the exhibition.

Whatever the case, looking at the exhibition as a whole, this was a fascinating insight into cabaret and club art, architecture and design with gems such as Jeanne Mammen’s glorious watercolour paintings on queer female desire and Lohse-Watchler’s dark scenes of Hamburg nightlife. The complex breadth of bohemian and artistic culture covered in the exhibition was truly breathtaking.

Dr Marcus Bunyan

.
Many thankx to the Barbican Art Gallery for allowing me to publish the media photographs in the posting. All installation images are iPhone images by Dr Marcus Bunyan. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image.

 

 

Catalogue cover for 'Into the Night: Cabarets and Clubs in Modern Art' at the Barbican Art Gallery, London

 

Catalogue cover for Into the Night: Cabarets and Clubs in Modern Art at the Barbican Art Gallery, London

 

Vienna: Cabaret Fledermaus 1907-13 wall text

Vienna: Cabaret Fledermaus 1907-13 wall text

Vienna: Cabaret Fledermaus 1907-13 wall text

 

Vienna: Cabaret Fledermaus 1907-13 wall text
Photos: Marcus Bunyan

 

 

Josef Hoffmann (Austrian, 1870-1956)
Weiner Werkstätte Postkarte (left to right) (installation views)
No. 74 (Interior view of the bar at the Cabaret Fledermaus);
No. 75 (Interior view of the bar at the Cabaret Fledermaus);
No. 67 (Interior view of the auditorium with stage at the Cabaret Fledermaus)
1907
Lithograph postcards
Collection of Leonard A. Lauder
Photos: Marcus Bunyan

 

Wall text about the Weiner Werkstätte postcards

 

Wall text about the Weiner Werkstätte postcards
Photo: Marcus Bunyan

 

Josef Hoffmann Wiener Werkstätte Postkarte No. 74 (Interior view of the bar at the Cabaret Fledermaus) 1907

 

Josef Hoffmann (Austrian, 1870-1956)
Wiener Werkstätte Postkarte No. 74 (Interior view of the bar at the Cabaret Fledermaus)
1907
Collection of Leonard A. Lauder

 

Into The Night: Cabarets And Clubs In Modern Art

Into The Night: Cabarets And Clubs In Modern Art

Into The Night: Cabarets And Clubs In Modern Art

 

Into the Night: Cabarets and Clubs in Modern Art (downstairs gallery, room recreation)
Installation view Barbican Art Gallery 4 October 2019 – 19 January 2020
Recreation of the bar at the Cabaret Fledermaus, originally designed by Josef Hoffmann (1907), 2019
Conceived by the Barbican Art Gallery and Caruso St John, in collaboration with the University of Applied Arts, Vienna
© Tristan Fewings / Getty Images

 

Downstairs gallery, room recreation

 

Josef von Divéky. Poster design for the Cabaret Fledermaus (unrealised) (installation view) 1907

Josef von Divéky. Poster design for the Cabaret Fledermaus (unrealised) 1907

 

Josef von Divéky (Hungarian, 1887-1951)
Poster design fro the Cabaret Fledermaus (unrealised) (installation views)
1907
Gouache over pencil on paper
University of Applied Arts Vienna, Collection and Archive
Photos: Marcus Bunyan

 

Carl Otto Czeschka (design) First programme for the Cabaret Fledermaus (installation view)

 

Carl Otto Czeschka (design)(Austrian, 1878-1960)
with illustrations by various artists
First programme for the Cabaret Fledermaus (installation view)
1907
Printed book
Publisher: Wiener Werkstate, Vienna
Printer: August Chwala, Vienna
Theatermuseum, Vienna
Photo: Marcus Bunyan

 

 

This programme for the opening night at the Cabaret Fledermaus on 19 October 1907 showcases its variety of experimental performances. Carl Otto Czeschka conceived the overarching design for the booklet, while vivid interior illustrations by contributing artists summon the spirit of the evenings activities.

 

Carl Otto Czeschka (design) First programme for the Cabaret Fledermaus (installation view) 1907

Carl Otto Czeschka (design) First programme for the Cabaret Fledermaus (installation view) 1907

 

Carl Otto Czeschka (design)(Austrian, 1878-1960)
with illustrations by various artists
First programme for the Cabaret Fledermaus (installation views)
1907
Printed book
Publisher: Wiener Werkstate, Vienna
Printer: August Chwala, Vienna
Theatermuseum, Vienna
Photos: Marcus Bunyan

 

 

Fritz Zeymer’s lyrical drawings capture the movements of Gertrude Barrison, who along with her sisters had become known in Europe and America for her bold, expressive dancing style. At the opening of the cabaret, Barrison performed solo to Edvard Greig’s romantic ‘Morgenstimmung’ (1875) in the ethereal white costume design by Zeymer himself (design shown here).

 

Carl Otto Czeschka (design) Second programme for the Cabaret Fledermaus (installation view) 1907

 

Carl Otto Czeschka (design)(Austrian, 1878-1960)
with cover design and illustrations by Moriz Jung
Second programme for the Cabaret Fledermaus (installation view)
1907
Printed book
Publisher: Wiener Werkstate, Vienna
Printer: August Chwala, Vienna
Ariel Muzicant Collection, Vienna
Photo: Marcus Bunyan

 

Le Corbusier. 'Plan at 1:100 for the Cabaret Fledermaus' 1907 (installation view)

Le Corbusier. 'Plan at 1:100 for the Cabaret Fledermaus' 1907 (installation view)

 

Le Corbusier (Swiss-French, 1887-1965)
Plan at 1:100 for the Cabaret Fledermaus (installation views)
1907
Graphite pencil, ink and wash on paper
Fondation Le Corbusier, Paris
Photos: Marcus Bunyan

 

Installation view of the exhibition 'Into the Night: Cabarets and Clubs in Modern Art' at the Barbican Art Gallery

Installation view of the exhibition 'Into the Night: Cabarets and Clubs in Modern Art' at the Barbican Art Gallery

 

Artefacts in display cabinet include Josef Hoffmann plant pot (1907), pepper mill (1907), vases for the Cabaret Fledermaus (1907) and an ashtray (1907) (installation views)
Photos: Marcus Bunyan

 

Installation view of the exhibition 'Into the Night: Cabarets and Clubs in Modern Art' at the Barbican Art Gallery

 

Installation views of the exhibition Into the Night: Cabarets and Clubs in Modern Art at the Barbican Art Gallery
Photos: Marcus Bunyan

 

Into The Night: Cabarets And Clubs In Modern Art

 

Into the Night: Cabarets and Clubs in Modern Art
Installation view Barbican Art Gallery 4 October 2019 – 19 January 2020
© Tristan Fewings / Getty Images

 

Bertold Löffler. Poster for the Cabaret Fledermaus 1907 (installation view)

 

Bertold Löffler (Austrian, 1874-1960)
Poster for the Cabaret Fledermaus (installation view)
1907
Lithograph
The Albertina Museum, Vienna
Photo: Marcus Bunyan

 

Bertold Löffler, Poster for the Cabaret Fledermaus, 1907

 

Bertold Löffler (Austrian, 1874-1960)
Poster for the Cabaret Fledermaus
1907
The Albertina Museum, Vienna
© The Albertina Museum, Vienna

 

Bertold Löffler. Poster for a performance by Miss Macara at the Cabaret Fledermaus 1909

 

Bertold Löffler (Austrian, 1874-1960)
Poster for a performance by Miss Macara at the Cabaret Fledermaus (installation view)
1909
Lithograph
The Albertina Museum, Vienna
Photo: Marcus Bunyan

 

Wall text about the poster for a performance by Miss Macara

 

Wall text about the poster for a performance by Miss Macara
Photo: Marcus Bunyan

 

Fritz Lang. Poster for the Cabaret Fledermaus 1911 (installation view)

 

Fritz Lang (Austrian-German-American, 1890-1976)
Poster for the Cabaret Fledermaus (installation view)
1911
Lithograph
The Albertina Museum, Vienna
Photo: Marcus Bunyan

 

Josef von Divéky. Design for 'Green Domino'for the Cabaret Fledermaus 1908 (installation view)

Josef von Divéky. Design for 'Orange Domino'for the Cabaret Fledermaus 1908 (installation view)

Josef von Divéky. Design for 'Blue Domino'for the Cabaret Fledermaus 1908

 

Josef von Divéky (Hungarian, 1887-1951)
Design for ‘Green Domino’, ‘Orange Domino’ and ‘Blue Domino’ for the Cabaret Fledermaus (installation views)
1908
Ink and pencil on paper
MAK – Austrian Museum of Applied Arts, Vienna
Photos: Marcus Bunyan

 

Into The Night: Cabarets And Clubs In Modern Art

 

Into the Night: Cabarets and Clubs in Modern Art
Installation view Barbican Art Gallery 4 October 2019 – 19 January 2020
© Tristan Fewings / Getty Images

 

Eduard Josef Wimmer-Wisgrill. Design for Maskenspiele (Masquerades) (two characters) 1907

 

Eduard Josef Wimmer-Wisgrill (Austrian, 1882-1961)
Design for Maskenspiele (Masquerades) (two characters)
1907
MAK – Austrian Museum of Applied Arts, Vienna
© MAK

 

 

Opening 4 October 2019, Into the Night: Cabarets and Clubs in Modern Art explores the social and artistic role of cabarets, cafés and clubs around the world. Spanning the 1880s to the 1960s, the exhibition presents a dynamic and multi-faceted history of artistic production. The first major show staged on this theme, it features both famed and little-known sites of the avant-garde – these creative spaces were incubators of radical thinking, where artists could exchange provocative ideas and create new forms of artistic expression. Into the Night offers an alternative history of modern art that highlights the spirit of experimentation and collaboration between artists, performers, designers, musicians and writers such as Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Loïe Fuller, Josef Hoffmann, Giacomo Balla, Theo van Doesburg and Sophie Taeuber-Arp, as well as Josephine Baker, Jeanne Mammen, Aaron Douglas, Jacob Lawrence, Ramón Alva de la Canal and Ibrahim El-Salahi.

Focusing on global locations from New York to Tehran, London, Paris, Mexico City, Berlin, Vienna and Ibadan, Into the Night brings together over 350 works rarely seen in the UK, including paintings, drawings, prints, photographs, films and archival material. Liberated from the confines of social and political norms, many of the sites provided immersive, often visceral experiences, manifesting the ideals of the artists and audiences who founded and frequented them. The exhibition features full-scale recreations of specific spaces, such as the multi-coloured ceramic tiled bar of the Cabaret Fledermaus in Vienna (1907), designed by Josef Hoffmann for the Wiener Werkstätte, and the striking abstract composition of the Ciné-Dancing designed by Theo van Doesburg for L’Aubette in Strasbourg (1926-28). The exhibition will feature a soundscape created by hrm199, the studio of acclaimed artist Haroon Mirza, specifically commissioned for the show.

Jane Alison, Head of Visual Arts, Barbican, said: “Into the Night casts a spotlight on some of the most electrifying cabarets and clubs of the modern era. Whether a creative haven, intoxicating stage or liberal hangout, all were magnets for artists, designers and performers to come together, collaborate and express themselves freely. Capturing the essence of these global incubators of experimentation and cross-disciplinarity, immersive 1:1 scale interiors will take the visitor on a captivating journey of discovery.”

Into the Night begins in Paris, on the eve of the 20th century, with two thrilling and iconic locations of the avant-garde. The theatrical shadow plays of the Chat Noir in the 1880s are brought to life through original silhouettes and works that decorated the interior of the cabaret, which acted as a forum for satire and debate for figures such as founder Rodolphe Salis, artist Henri Rivière and composer Erik Satie. The captivating serpentine dances of Loïe Fuller staged at the Folies Bergère in the 1890s were trail-blazing experiments in costume, light and movement. Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec captured her performances in his extraordinary series of delicately hand-coloured lithographs, brought together for the exhibition. Visitors will encounter the immersive “Gesamtkunstwerk” (total work of art) design of the Cabaret Fledermaus (1907) in Vienna by the Wiener Werkstätte, where experimental cabaret productions were staged. The exhibition includes original documentation of Oskar Kokoschka’s exuberant puppet theatre and Gertrude Barrison’s expressionist dance.

The Cave of the Golden Calf (1912), an underground haunt in Soho epitomising decadence and hedonism, is evoked through designs for the interior by British artists Spencer Gore and Eric Gill, as well as Wyndham Lewis’s highly stylised programmes for the eclectic performance evenings – advertised at the time as encompassing “the picturesque dances of the South, its fervid melodies, Parisian wit, English humour.” In Zurich, the radical atmosphere of the Cabaret Voltaire (1916) is manifested through absurdist sound poetry and fantastical masks that deconstruct body and language, evoking the anarchic performances by Hugo Ball, Emmy Hennings and Marcel Janco. This is the birthplace of Dada, where humour, chaos and ridicule reign. Two significant clubs in Rome provide insights into the electrifying dynamism of Futurism in Italy in the 1920s. Giacomo Balla’s mesmerising Bal Tic Tac (1921) is summoned by colour-saturated designs for the club’s interior, capturing the swirling movement of dancers. Also on show are drawings and furnishings for Fortunato Depero’s spectacular inferno-inspired Cabaret del Diavolo (1922) which occupied three floors representing heaven, purgatory and hell. Depero’s flamboyant tapestry writhes with dancing demons, expressing the club’s motto “Tutti all’inferno!!! (Everyone to hell!!!)”.

A few years later, a group of artists and writers from the radical movement Estridentismo, including Ramón Alva de la Canal, Manuel Maples Arce and Germán Cueto, began to meet at the Café de Nadie (Nobody’s Café) in Mexico City, responding to volatile Post-Revolutionary change and the urban metropolis. The ¡30-30! group expressed its values by holding a major print exhibition (partially reassembled here) in a travelling circus tent open to all. Meanwhile in Strasbourg, Theo van Doesburg, Hans Arp and Sophie Taeuber-Arp worked together to create the L’Aubette (1926-28), conceived as the ultimate “deconstruction of architecture”, with bold geometric abstraction as its guiding principle. The vast building housed a cinema-ballroom, bar, tearoom, billiards room, restaurant and more, each designed as immersive environments.

After a period of restraint in Germany during the First World War, the 1920s heralded an era of liberation and the relaxation of censorship laws. Numerous clubs and bars in metropolitan cities, such as Berlin, playing host to heady cabaret revues and daring striptease; the notorious synchronised Tiller Girls are captured in Karl Hofer’s iconic portrait. Major works by often overlooked female artists such as Jeanne Mammen and Elfriede Lohse-Wächtler, as well as George Grosz, Otto Dix and Max Beckmann, capture the pulsating energy of these nightclubs and the alternative lifestyles that flourished within them during the 1920s and 1930s. During the same time in New York, the literary and jazz scenes thrived and co-mingled in the predominantly African American neighbourhood of Harlem, where black identity was re-forged and debated. Paintings and prints by Aaron Douglas and Jacob Lawrence convey the vibrant atmosphere and complex racial and sexual politics of the time, while poetry by Langston Hughes and early cinema featuring Duke Ellington shed light on the rich range of creative expression thriving within the city.

Into the Night also celebrates the lesser known but highly influential Mbari Artists and Writers Club, founded in the early 1960s in Nigeria. Focusing on two of the club’s key locations, in Ibadan and Osogbo, the exhibition explores how they were founded as laboratories for postcolonial artistic practices, providing a platform for a dazzling range of activities – including open-air dance and theatre performances, featuring ground breaking Yoruba operas by Duro Ladipo and Fela Kuti’s Afro-jazz; poetry and literature readings; experimental art workshops; and pioneering exhibitions by African and international artists such as Colette Omogbai, Ibrahim El-Salahi and Uche Okeke. Meanwhile in Tehran, Rasht 29 emerged in1966 as a creative space for avant-garde painters, poets, musicians and filmmakers to freely discuss their practice. Spontaneous performances were celebrated and works by artists like Parviz Tanavoli and Faramarz Pilaram hung in the lounge while a soundtrack including Led Zeppelin and the Beatles played constantly.

The exhibition is curated and organised by Barbican Centre, London, in collaboration with the Belvedere, Vienna.

Press release from the Barbican Art Gallery [Online] Cited 28/12/2019

 

Rome: Cabaret Del Diavolo 1922 wall text

Rome: Cabaret Del Diavolo 1922 wall text

Rome: Cabaret Del Diavolo 1922 wall text

 

Rome: Cabaret Del Diavolo 1922 wall text

 

Installation view of the exhibition 'Into the Night: Cabarets and Clubs in Modern Art' at the Barbican Art Gallery

Installation view of the exhibition 'Into the Night: Cabarets and Clubs in Modern Art' at the Barbican Art Gallery

Installation view of the exhibition 'Into the Night: Cabarets and Clubs in Modern Art' at the Barbican Art Gallery

Installation view of the exhibition 'Into the Night: Cabarets and Clubs in Modern Art' at the Barbican Art Gallery

Installation view of the exhibition 'Into the Night: Cabarets and Clubs in Modern Art' at the Barbican Art Gallery

Installation view of the exhibition 'Into the Night: Cabarets and Clubs in Modern Art' at the Barbican Art Gallery

 

Installation views of the exhibition Into the Night: Cabarets and Clubs in Modern Art at the Barbican Art Gallery showing Fortunato Depero’s tapestry Diavoletti neri e bianchi. Danza di diavoli (Black and White Little Devils: Dance of the Devils), 1922
Photos: Marcus Bunyan

 

Fortunato Depero wall text

 

Fortunato Depero wall text
Photo: Marcus Bunyan

 

Into The Night: Cabarets And Clubs In Modern Art

 

Into the Night: Cabarets and Clubs in Modern Art
Installation view Barbican Art Gallery 4 October 2019 – 19 January 2020
© Tristan Fewings / Getty Images

 

Fortunato Depero Diavoletti neri e bianchi. Danza di diavoli (Black and White Little Devils: Dance of the Devils) 1922

 

Fortunato Depero (Italian, 1892-1960)
Diavoletti neri e bianchi. Danza di diavoli (Black and White Little Devils: Dance of the Devils)
1922
Mart, Museo di arte moderna e contemporanea di Trento e Rovereto / Fondo Depero
© DACS 2019. Archivo Depero, Rovereto. Courtesy Mart – Archivio Fotografico e Mediateca

 

Installation view of the exhibition 'Into the Night: Cabarets and Clubs in Modern Art' at the Barbican Art Gallery

Installation view of the exhibition 'Into the Night: Cabarets and Clubs in Modern Art' at the Barbican Art Gallery

 

Rome: Bal Tic Tac 1921 wall text
Photos: Marcus Bunyan

 

Giacomo Balla Design for the sign and flashing light for the facade of the Bal Tic Tac 1921 (installation view)

Giacomo Balla Design for the sign and flashing light for the facade of the Bal Tic Tac 1921 (installation view)

 

Giacomo Balla (Italian, 1871-1958)
Design for the sign and flashing light for the facade of the Bal Tic Tac (installation views)
1921
Photos: Marcus Bunyan

 

Giacomo Balla wall text

 

Giacomo Balla wall text
Photo: Marcus Bunyan

 

Giacomo Balla, Design for the sign and flashing light for the facade of the Bal Tic Tac, 1921

 

Giacomo Balla (Italian, 1871-1958)
Design for the sign and flashing light for the facade of the Bal Tic Tac
1921
© DACS, 2019. Reproduced by permission of the Fondazione Torino Musei
Photo: Studio Fotografico Gonella 2014

 

Installation view of the exhibition 'Into the Night: Cabarets and Clubs in Modern Art' at the Barbican Art Gallery

Installation view of the exhibition 'Into the Night: Cabarets and Clubs in Modern Art' at the Barbican Art Gallery

 

Installation views of the exhibition Into the Night: Cabarets and Clubs in Modern Art at the Barbican Art Gallery
Photos: Marcus Bunyan

 

Installation view of the exhibition 'Into the Night: Cabarets and Clubs in Modern Art' at the Barbican Art Gallery

Giacomo Balla. 'Dancer from the Bal Tic Tac' 1921 (installation view)

 

Giacomo Balla (Italian, 1871-1958)
Dancer from the Bal Tic Tac (installation view)
1921
Pencil on paper
Biagiotti Cigna Foundation
Photo: Marcus Bunyan

 

Giacomo Balla. 'Design for a light for the Bal Tic Tac' 1921 (installation view)

 

Giacomo Balla (Italian, 1871-1958)
Design for a light for the Bal Tic Tac (installation view)
1921
Pencil and tempera on paper
Torino, GAM – Galleria Civica d’Arte moderna e Contemporanea, Gabinetto Disegni e Stampe
Photo: Marcus Bunyan

 

Giacomo Balla wall text

 

Giacomo Balla wall text
Photo: Marcus Bunyan

 

Installation view of the exhibition 'Into the Night: Cabarets and Clubs in Modern Art' at the Barbican Art Gallery

Installation view of the exhibition 'Into the Night: Cabarets and Clubs in Modern Art' at the Barbican Art Gallery

 

Installation views of the exhibition Into the Night: Cabarets and Clubs in Modern Art at the Barbican Art Gallery
Photos: Marcus Bunyan

 

Mexico City: Cafe De Nadie & Carpa Amaro 1920s

Mexico City: Cafe De Nadie & Carpa Amaro 1920s

Mexico City: Cafe De Nadie & Carpa Amaro 1920s

 

Mexico City: Cafe De Nadie & Carpa Amaro 1920s wall text
Photos: Marcus Bunyan

 

Installation view of the exhibition 'Into the Night: Cabarets and Clubs in Modern Art' at the Barbican Art Gallery

Installation view of the exhibition Into the Night: Cabarets and Clubs in Modern Art at the Barbican Art Gallery

Installation view of the exhibition 'Into the Night: Cabarets and Clubs in Modern Art' at the Barbican Art Gallery

Wall text about Mexican woodcuts

 

Installation views of the exhibition Into the Night: Cabarets and Clubs in Modern Art at the Barbican Art Gallery showing a group of Mexican woodcuts 1922-28
Photos: Marcus Bunyan

 

Justino Fernandez. 'El corrido' (The Corrido) 1928 (installation view)

Justino Fernandez. 'El corrido' (The Corrido) 1928 (installation view)

 

Justino Fernandez (Mexican, 1904-1972)
El corrido (The Corrido) (installation views)
1928
Woodcut
Fondo Diaz de León
Colección Andres Blastien, Mexico
Photos: Marcus Bunyan

 

Justino Fernandez. 'La hora del mando' (Market Time) 1928 (installation view)

Justino Fernandez. 'La hora del mando' (Market Time) 1928 (installation view)

 

Justino Fernandez (Mexican, 1904-1972)
La hora del mando (Market Time) (installation views)
1928
Woodcut
Fondo Diaz de León
Colección Andres Blastien, Mexico
Photos: Marcus Bunyan

 

Fernando Leal. 'Danzantes' (Dancers) 1922 (installation view)

 

Fernando Leal (Mexican, 1896-1964)
Danzantes (Dancers) (installation view)
1922
Woodcut
Fondo Diaz de León
Colección Andres Blastien, Mexico
Photo: Marcus Bunyan

 

Francisco Diaz de León. 'Retablo' (Altarpiece) 1928 (installation view)

Francisco Diaz de León. 'Retablo' (Altarpiece) 1928 (installation view)

 

Francisco Diaz de León (Mexican, 1897-1975)
Retablo (Altarpiece)
1928
Woodcut
Fondo Diaz de León
Colección Andres Blastien, Mexico
Photos: Marcus Bunyan

 

Isabella Villaseñor. 'Autorretrato' (Self-portrait) 1928 (installation view)

 

Isabella Villaseñor (Mexican, 1909-1953)
Autorretrato (Self-portrait) (installation view)
1928
Woodcut
Colecciones Carlos Monsivais
Museo del Estanquillo
Photo: Marcus Bunyan

 

Fernando Leal. 'Dance of the Crescent Moon' 1922 (installation view)

 

Fernando Leal (Mexican, 1896-1964)
Dance of the Crescent Moon (installation view)
1922
Woodcut
Museo Nacional de Arte, INBA
Photo: Marcus Bunyan

 

Gabriel Fernández Ledesma. 'Cabeza de Lenin' (Head of Lenin) 1927 (installation view)

 

Gabriel Fernández Ledesma (Mexican, 1900-1983)
Cabeza de Lenin (Head of Lenin) (installation view)
1927
Woodcut
Fondo Diaz de León
Colección Andres Blastien, Mexico
Photo: Marcus Bunyan

 

Gabriel Fernández Ledesma. 'Tlacuache' (Opposum) c. 1920s

 

Gabriel Fernández Ledesma (Mexican, 1900-1983)
Tlacuache (Opposum) (installation view)
c. 1920s
Woodcut
Fondo Diaz de León
Colección Andres Blastien, Mexico
Photo: Marcus Bunyan

 

Gabriel Fernández Ledesma. 'Patos Chinos' (Chinese Ducks) 1928 (installation view)

 

Gabriel Fernández Ledesma (Mexican, 1900-1983)
Patos Chinos (Chinese Ducks) (installation view)
1928
Woodcut
Fondo Diaz de León
Colección Andres Blastien, Mexico
Photo: Marcus Bunyan

 

Into The Night: Cabarets And Clubs In Modern Art

 

Into the Night: Cabarets and Clubs in Modern Art
Installation view Barbican Art Gallery 4 October 2019 – 19 January 2020
© Tristan Fewings / Getty Images

 

Installation view of the exhibition 'Into the Night: Cabarets and Clubs in Modern Art' at the Barbican Art Gallery

Installation view of the exhibition 'Into the Night: Cabarets and Clubs in Modern Art' at the Barbican Art Gallery

Wall text about Mexican masks

Installation view of the exhibition 'Into the Night: Cabarets and Clubs in Modern Art' at the Barbican Art Gallery

Installation view of the exhibition 'Into the Night: Cabarets and Clubs in Modern Art' at the Barbican Art Gallery

Installation view of the exhibition 'Into the Night: Cabarets and Clubs in Modern Art' at the Barbican Art Gallery

 

Installation view of the exhibition Into the Night: Cabarets and Clubs in Modern Art at the Barbican Art Gallery showing Germán Cueto’s Máscara estridentista (Stridentist Masks), c. 1924
Photos: Marcus Bunyan

 

Germán Cueto. Máscara estridentista (Stridentist Mask) c. 1924

 

Germán Cueto (Mexican, 1893-1975)
Máscara estridentista (Stridentist Mask)
c. 1924
Colección Ysabel Galán, México
Photo: Cortesia del Museo Frederico Silva Escultura Contemporeana, San Luis Potosi, Mexico

 

Installation view of the exhibition Into the Night: Cabarets and Clubs in Modern Art at the Barbican Art Gallery

Installation view of the exhibition Into the Night: Cabarets and Clubs in Modern Art at the Barbican Art Gallery

 

Installation views of the exhibition Into the Night: Cabarets and Clubs in Modern Art at the Barbican Art Gallery showing Ramón Alva de la Canal’s painting El Café de Nadie (Nobody’s Café), c. 1970
Photos: Marcus Bunyan

 

Into the Night: Cabarets and Clubs in Modern Art

 

Into the Night: Cabarets and Clubs in Modern Art
Installation view Barbican Art Gallery 4 October 2019 – 19 January 2020
© Tristan Fewings / Getty Images

 

Ramón Alva de la Canal El Café de Nadie (Nobody's Café) c. 1970

 

Ramón Alva de la Canal (Mexican, 1892-1985)
El Café de Nadie (Nobody’s Café)
c. 1970
© DACS, 2019
Courtesy Private Collection

 

Installation views of the exhibition 'Into the Night: Cabarets and Clubs in Modern Art' at the Barbican Art Gallery, London

Installation views of the exhibition 'Into the Night: Cabarets and Clubs in Modern Art' at the Barbican Art Gallery, London

Installation views of the exhibition 'Into the Night: Cabarets and Clubs in Modern Art' at the Barbican Art Gallery, London

Installation views of the exhibition 'Into the Night: Cabarets and Clubs in Modern Art' at the Barbican Art Gallery, London

Installation views of the exhibition 'Into the Night: Cabarets and Clubs in Modern Art' at the Barbican Art Gallery, London

 

Installation views of the exhibition Into the Night: Cabarets and Clubs in Modern Art at the Barbican Art Gallery showing Mexican printed books 1923-1927
Photos: Marcus Bunyan

 

Installation views of the exhibition 'Into the Night: Cabarets and Clubs in Modern Art' at the Barbican Art Gallery, London

Ramon Alva de la Canal. 'El movimiento estridentista' (The Stridentist Movement) 1926 (installation view)

 

Ramón Alva de la Canal (Mexican, 1892-1985)
El movimiento estridentista (The Stridentist Movement) (installation views)
1926
Woodcut
Francisco Reyes Palma Collection
Photos: Marcus Bunyan

 

Ramon Alva de la Canal. 'Manuel Maples Arce en el Café de Nadie' (Manuel Maples Arce in the Café de Nadie) c. 1924 (installation view)

 

Ramón Alva de la Canal (Mexican, 1892-1985)
Manuel Maples Arce en el Café de Nadie (Manuel Maples Arce in the Café de Nadie) (installation view)
c. 1924
Woodcut
Museo Nacional de Arte, Mexico City
Photos: Marcus Bunyan

 

 

Barbican Art Gallery
Silk Street, London
EC2Y 8DS

Opening hours:
Mon – Tue 12noon – 6pm
Wed – Fri 12noon – 9pm
Sat 10am – 9pm
Sun 10am – 6pm

Barbican Art Gallery website

LIKE ART BLART ON FACEBOOK

Back to top

06
Dec
19

Exhibition: ‘John Pfahl Altered Landscapes’ at Joseph Bellows Gallery, La Jolla, California

Exhibition dates: 5th November – 13th December 2019

 

John Pfahl (American, b. 1939) 'Wave, Lave, Lace, Pescadero Beach, California' 1978

 

John Pfahl (American, b. 1939)
Wave, Lave, Lace, Pescadero Beach, California
1978
Archival pigment print
16 x 20 inches

 

 

I like these photographs, I like them a lot.

Unlike most conceptual art where you have to read a heavy tome of text to understand, actually, the work is about very little and means even less – here, there is humour, wit, intelligence and insight into the condition of our existence on this earth.

Using the optics of the large format camera to enhance perspective, Pfahl projects (his) music into the cosmos. The mark making is lightly made on the landscape, as in Triangle, Bermuda or Australian Pines, Fort DeSoto, Florida. Imagine having the impulse, the creativity, to make that gesture, to wrap silver foil around the trees in the latter image at just that height. A brilliant intervention into the “natural” (i.e. constructed) scene. Often used in his photographs is the Sowilō or the s-rune, the runic symbol ϟ meaning “sun”.

In 1981, Peter C. Bunnell observes in his Introduction to James Alinder’s book Altered Landscapes: The Photographs of John Pfahl, “Our momentary, fragmented and captured vision of disorder and emotion has been replaced by a cool rendering of purposefulness as if to accord another dimension of positivism to the moving force of contemporary human awareness. Pfahl’s work is an attack on the problems of space and, ultimately, existence from a rational point of view.”

Forty years later, these photographs seem not so much rational, or picturesque, as spiritual. The human construction touches the earth lightly, almost reverentially. As Pfahl notes, utmost care is taken not to alter the actual subject in a way he would consider harmful to his positivist respect for nature. In this delicate footprint, these photographs are very prescient of the dangers of our own Anthropocene – of climate change, of raging bushfires, drought, flood and bio-exinction. We are literally destroying this planet and its creatures. Bunnell states, “Pfahl’s imagery is a sure manifestation of the belief that society can produce an art suitable to its nature and, in this case, a specific kind of photographic presence that expresses current societal values.”

Unfortunately, it’s all too late. The lesson has not been learned.

Marcus

.
Many thankx to Joseph Bellows Gallery for allowing me to publish the photographs and the text (reproduced with permission) in the posting. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image.

 

 

John Pfahl (American, b. 1939) 'Moonrise over Pie Pan, Capitol Reef National Park' 1977

 

John Pfahl (American, b. 1939)
Moonrise over Pie Pan, Capitol Reef National Park
1977
Archival pigment print
16 x 20 inches

 

John Pfahl (American, b. 1939) 'Haystack Cone, Freeport, Maine' 1976

 

John Pfahl (American, b. 1939)
Haystack Cone, Freeport, Maine
1976
Vintage dye transfer print
7 ¾ x 10 inches

 

John Pfahl (American, b. 1939) 'Pink Rock Rectangle, Lewiston, New York' 1975

 

John Pfahl (American, b. 1939)
Pink Rock Rectangle, Lewiston, New York
1975
Vintage dye transfer print
7 ¾ x 10 inches

 

John Pfahl (American, b. 1939) 'Triangle, Bermuda' 1975

 

John Pfahl (American, b. 1939)
Triangle, Bermuda
1975
Archival pigment print
16 x 20 inches

 

John Pfahl (American, b. 1939) 'Australian Pines, Fort DeSoto, Florida' 1977

 

John Pfahl (American, b. 1939)
Australian Pines, Fort DeSoto, Florida
1977
Vintage dye transfer print
7 ¾ x 10 inches

 

 

Joseph Bellows Gallery is pleased to announce its upcoming solo exhibition, John Pfahl Altered Landscapes. The exhibition will open November 5th and continue thru December 13th, 2019. A reception is scheduled for November 23rd, from 5-8 pm. The exhibition will present a selection of vintage dye transfer colour photographs that the artist printed in the late 1970s, as well as larger archival pigment prints of the series most celebrated images.

In his series Altered Landscapes, Pfahl physically changes the environment, fabricating the view to question our perception of the landscape through added elements that reference mark-making devices associated with photographs, maps, plans, and diagrams. These gestures sometimes repeat strong formal components; fill in information suggested by the scene, or act upon information external to the photograph itself. The picturesque scenes are at once interrupted and completed by the artist’s involvement in creating the photograph.

John Pfahl was born in 1939 in New York, New York and raised in New Jersey. He studied art at Syracuse University, receiving a B.F.A. in 1961 and a M.A. from the School of Communications of the same university in 1968. His position in photography has been one of both a celebrated artist and an important educator. Pfahl taught photography for over decade at the Rochester Institute of Technology, educating many now important contemporary photographers and has served as a longtime adjunct professor in the Visual Studies department of the University of Buffalo. In 2009, he was the Honored Educator of the Year by the Society for Photographic Education. Other honours include two National Endowment for the Arts, Photographer’s Fellowships.

His work is in numerous prominent collections, including: Albright-Knox Art Gallery, J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Metropolitan Museum of Art, George Eastman House, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, The Museum of Modern Art, Center for Creative Photography, Princeton University Art Museum, among others.

Monographs on Pfahls’s work include Altered Landscapes: The Photographs of John Pfahl (Friends of Photography 1982), Picture Windows (New York Graphic Society 1987), A Distanced Land (UNM/Albright-Knox Gallery 1990), Permutations on the Picturesque (Lightwork 1997) and Waterfall (Nazraeli Press 2000), and Extreme Horticulture (Verlag 2003).

Press release from the Joseph Bellows Gallery [Online] Cited 09/11/2019

 

John Pfahl (American, b. 1939) 'Slanting Forest, Lewiston, New York' 1975

 

John Pfahl (American, b. 1939)
Slanting Forest, Lewiston, New York
1975
Vintage dye transfer print
7 ¾ x 10 inches

 

John Pfahl (American, b. 1939) 'Live Oak Lightning, Lompoc, California' 1978

 

John Pfahl (American, b. 1939)
Live Oak Lightning, Lompoc, California
1978
Vintage dye transfer print
7 ¾ x 10 inches

 

John Pfahl (American, b. 1939) 'Tracks, Bonneville Salt Flats, Utah' 1977

 

John Pfahl (American, b. 1939)
Tracks, Bonneville Salt Flats, Utah
1977
Archival pigment print
16 x 20 inches

 

John Pfahl (American, b. 1939) 'Monument Valley with Red String, Monument Valley, Utah' 1977

 

John Pfahl (American, b. 1939)
Monument Valley with Red String, Monument Valley, Utah
1977
Archival pigment print
16 x 20 inches

 

 

Introduction

Peter C. Bunnell

Peter C. Bunnell. "Introduction," from James Alinder (ed.,). 'Altered Landscapes: The Photographs of John Pfahl (Untitled Series, No. 26)'

Peter C. Bunnell. "Introduction," from James Alinder (ed.,). 'Altered Landscapes: The Photographs of John Pfahl (Untitled Series, No. 26)'

Peter C. Bunnell. "Introduction," from James Alinder (ed.,). 'Altered Landscapes: The Photographs of John Pfahl (Untitled Series, No. 26)'

Peter C. Bunnell. "Introduction," from James Alinder (ed.,). 'Altered Landscapes: The Photographs of John Pfahl (Untitled Series, No. 26)'

Peter C. Bunnell. "Introduction," from James Alinder (ed.,). 'Altered Landscapes: The Photographs of John Pfahl (Untitled Series, No. 26)'

Peter C. Bunnell. "Introduction," from James Alinder (ed.,). 'Altered Landscapes: The Photographs of John Pfahl (Untitled Series, No. 26)'

Peter C. Bunnell. "Introduction," from James Alinder (ed.,). 'Altered Landscapes: The Photographs of John Pfahl (Untitled Series, No. 26)'

Peter C. Bunnell. "Introduction," from James Alinder (ed.,). 'Altered Landscapes: The Photographs of John Pfahl (Untitled Series, No. 26)'

 

Peter C. Bunnell. “Introduction,” from James Alinder (ed.,). Altered Landscapes: The Photographs of John Pfahl (Untitled Series, No. 26). Friends of Photography / Robert Freidus Gallery, June 1, 1981

 

John Pfahl (American, b. 1939) 'Six Oranges, Buffalo, New York' 1975

 

John Pfahl (American, b. 1939)
Six Oranges, Buffalo, New York
1975
Vintage dye transfer print
7 ¾ x 10 inches

 

John Pfahl (American, b. 1939) 'Red Setters in Red Field, Charlotte, North Carolina' 1976

 

John Pfahl (American, b. 1939)
Red Setters in Red Field, Charlotte, North Carolina
1976
Vintage dye transfer print
7 ¾ x 10 inches

 

John Pfahl (American, b. 1939) 'Roan Mounting Lightning, Roan Mountain, North Carolina' 1977

 

John Pfahl (American, b. 1939)
Roan Mounting Lightning, Roan Mountain, North Carolina
1977
Archival pigment print
16 x 20 inches

 

John Pfahl (American, b. 1939) 'Blue Right Angle, Buffalo, New York' 1978

 

John Pfahl (American, b. 1939)
Blue Right Angle, Buffalo, New York
1978
Archival pigment print
16 x 20 inches

 

John Pfahl (American, b. 1939) 'Tree and Mountain Cleft, Boulder, Colorado' 1977

 

John Pfahl (American, b. 1939)
Tree and Mountain Cleft, Boulder, Colorado
1977
Archival pigment print
16 x 20 inches

 

John Pfahl (American, b. 1939) 'Canyon Point, Zion Canyon National Park, Utah' 1977

 

John Pfahl (American, b. 1939)
Canyon Point, Zion Canyon National Park, Utah
1977
Archival pigment print
20 x 16 inches

 

 

Joseph Bellows Gallery
7661 Girrard Avenue
La Jolla, California
Phone: 858 456 5620

Opening hours:
Tuesday – Friday, 10am – 5pm, and Saturday by appointment

Joseph Bellows Gallery website

LIKE ART BLART ON FACEBOOK

Back to top

26
Sep
19

Exhibition: ‘Terracotta Warriors: Guardians of Immortality’ at the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne

Exhibition dates: 24th May – 13th October 2019

 

Censer 灰陶熏炉 Qin dynasty, 221 - 207 BCE

 

Censer
灰陶熏炉
Qin dynasty, 221 – 207 BCE
Earthenware
Xi’an Museum, Xi’an

 

 

The best thing about this exhibition were the beautiful lidded containers, flasks, everyday vessels and censers; cows, sows, goats, mythical creatures and smaller soldiers. The female attendant was divine.

Other than that I refrain from comment for fear of incriminating myself!

(perhaps a yawn would suffice)

Marcus

 

Many thankx to the National Gallery of Victoria for allowing me to publish the photographs in the posting. All photographs are iPhone images © Marcus Bunyan and the National Gallery of Victoria. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image.

 

Epic accounts of China’s ruling dynasties, philosophies, inventions and social customs during ancient times have been passed down through the centuries in the writings of philosophers, imperial scribes and military strategists. However, it was not until archaeologists in the twentieth century unearthed evidence – masterful bronzes, delicately crafted jades and boldly decorated ceramics – that the advanced levels of civilisation, artistry and refined aesthetics that existed in the past were more fully revealed. This provided a greater understanding of the rituals, social customs, preparation for the afterlife and quest for immortality that remained central to Chinese culture.

The greatest discovery of all was in 1974, when local farmers digging an irrigation well in Lintong district, Xi’an, unearthed fragments of the terracotta warriors. With this astounding discovery the legends of ancient China’s first emperor, Qin Shihuang, were confirmed. In their size and number, the terracotta warriors are unique in world history and signify Qin Shihuang’s quest for immortality, his affiliation with China’s mythical rulers, and his supreme imperial mandate as the son of heaven.

Text from the National Gallery of Victoria website

 

 

Lacquered vessel, Ding 陶胎漆鼎 Warring States period, 475 - 221 BCE

 

Lacquered vessel, Ding
陶胎漆鼎
Warring States period, 475 – 221 BCE
Lacquer on earthenware
Shangluo City Museum, Shangluo

 

Lidded container, He (left) 彩绘陶盒 Han dynasty, 207 BCE - 220 CE

 

Lidded container, He (left)
彩绘陶盒
Han dynasty, 207 BCE – 220 CE
Earthenware, pigments
Ganquan County Museum, Yan’an

Lidded container, He (right)
彩绘陶盒
Han dynasty, 207 BCE – 220 CE
Earthenware, pigments
Ganquan County Museum, Yan’an

 

Jar for storing grain (left) 彩绘陶仓 Han dynasty, 207 BCE - 220 CE

 

Jar for storing grain (left)
彩绘陶仓
Han dynasty, 207 BCE – 220 CE
Earthenware, pigments
Ganquan County Museum, Yan’an

Jar for storing grain (right)
彩绘陶仓
Han dynasty, 207 BCE – 220 CE
Earthenware, pigments
Ganquan County Museum, Yan’an

 

 

Ceramic ware with boldly painted decoration became widely used as substitutes for bronze vessels during the Qin (221 – 207 BCE) and Han (207 BCE – 220 CE) dynasties. The spontaneous and energetic decoration indicates they were produced in large numbers and therefore affordable to the general public. Vessels like these were used as utensils in daily life as well as modest tomb ware to contain provisions for the afterlife, like grain, wine and other foods. Ceramic ware like water pourers or incense burners also served as affordable utensils used in ceremonies and rituals.

Wall text from the exhibition

 

Flask, Hu 彩绘陶壶 Spring and Autumn period, 771 - 475 BCE

 

Flask, Hu
彩绘陶壶
Spring and Autumn period, 771 – 475 BCE
Earthenware, pigments
Longxian County Museum, Baoji

 

 

These Han dynasty ceramic vessels maintain the elegant shapes and decorative features of Zhou dynasty bronze vessels produced 1000 years earlier. Free-flowing painted designs reference nature motifs and auspicious subjects like clouds and dragons. The Four-sided flask displays ringed handles in solid relief on either side in a direct reference to identically shaped bronze vessels from the Zhou dynasty.

Wall text from the exhibition

 

Hollow brick with snake and tortoise 玄武纹空心砖 Western Han dynasty, 207 BCE - 9 CE

 

Hollow brick with snake and tortoise
玄武纹空心砖
Western Han dynasty, 207 BCE – 9 CE
Earthenware
Maoling Museum, Xingping

 

 

The Qin state capital city changed location on numerous occasions before establishing its grandest city and ultimate capital at Xianyang in 350 BCE. Vast palaces were constructed with wooden structures and clay-tiled roofs. Palaces were decorated with magnificent murals that featured geometric and floral designs as well as figures and animals. At the fall of the Qin empire in 207 BCE, the palaces were destroyed, with the grandest of them, Epang Palace, so large it reportedly burned for more than three months. Today, nothing but foundations remain; however, an idea of their grandeur and decoration can be gained from bricks and roof tiles. Four of the bricks display the four protective spirits representing each of the cardinal directions: the turtle (north), dragon (east), vermilion bird (south) and tiger (west).

Wall text from the exhibition

 

Flask, Hu 彩绘陶壶 Spring and Autumn period, 771 - 475 BCE

 

Flask, Hu
彩绘陶壶
Spring and Autumn period, 771 – 475 BCE
Earthenware, pigments
Longxian County Museum, Baoji

 

 

Ritual objects and ancestral treasures

Before the establishment of a nationally unified state by Emperor Qin Shihuang in 221 BCE, China had a long history of opposing kingdoms, self-governing territories and dynasties whose customs, beliefs and refined artisanship influenced the Qin dynasty and its creativity. Family prestige, social harmony and a belief in immortality and the afterlife were central to the creation of auspicious and ceremonial objects used for burial rituals, ancestor worship and encouraging good fortune. This gallery displays some of the most exquisitely crafted of these objects, produced from the beginning of the Zhou dynasty to the end of the Han dynasty (1046 BCE – 220 CE).

Jade was believed to possess magical powers that could maintain the human life force of air or breath after death, and beautifully carved jade objects would often accompany bodies in burial to help purify the deceased’s soul for its journey to the afterlife. Bronze objects with decorative motifs and inscriptions were created to represent a symbolic connection to China’s earliest dynasties and a ‘mandate from heaven’ to rule. Gold is thought to have been introduced to China from Central Asia and was mostly used for decoration on clasps, buckles and ceremonial objects.

Wall text from the exhibition

 

Belt plaque 金牌饰 Western Han dynasty, 207 BCE - 9 CE

 

Belt plaque
金牌饰
Western Han dynasty, 207 BCE – 9 CE
Gold, jade, agate, turquoise
Shaanxi Provincial Institute of Archaeology, Xi’an

 

 

In contrast to jade, which symbolised wealth and spiritual purity, and bronze, used to produce ritual objects, gold was used to a lesser extent and served a primarily decorative purpose. The tradition of using gold for personal adornment is believed to have come to China from Central Asia, and gold became a favoured material from the Spring and Autumn period (771 – 475 BCE) onwards. Objects that represented personal status, such as belt hooks, belt plaques and personal adornments, were usually cast in solid gold and often featured stylised geometric dragon motifs and inlaid semiprecious stones like turquoise and agate.

Wall text from the exhibition

 

Door ring holder in the form of a mythological beast, Pushou 四神兽面纹玉铺首 Han dynasty, 207 BCE - 220 CE

Door ring holder in the form of a mythological beast, Pushou 四神兽面纹玉铺首 Han dynasty, 207 BCE - 220 CE

 

Door ring holder in the form of a mythological beast, Pushou
四神兽面纹玉铺首
Han dynasty, 207 BCE – 220 CE
Jade
Maoling Museum, Xingping

 

 

This impressive door ring holder (pushou) in the form of a taotie mythological beast mask would support a large ring from its lower section and be positioned in the centre of doors or gateways. Its size is evidence of the grandeur of the palace or mausoleum building it once adorned. Its fierce appearance, with bulging eyes, was believed to ward off evil spirits, and its curling motifs ingeniously incorporate the four protective spirits in each corner. The four holy creatures are (clockwise from top left) the white tiger, the azure dragon, the vermilion bird and the black tortoise.

Wall text from the exhibition

 

 

In a dual presentation of Chinese art and culture past and present, the Melbourne Winter Masterpieces series at the National Gallery of Victoria will present China’s ancient Terracotta Warriors alongside a parallel display of new works by one of the world’s most exciting contemporary artists, Cai Guo-Qiang, at NGV International, May 2019.

Terracotta Warriors: Guardians of Immortality is a large-scale presentation of the Qin Emperor’s Terracotta Warriors, which, discovered in 1974 in China’s Shaanxi province, are regarded as one of the greatest archaeological finds of the twentieth century and widely described as the eighth wonder of the world. The exhibition will feature eight warrior figures and two life-size horses from the Imperial Army, as well as two half-size replica bronze chariots, each drawn by four horses.

These sculptures will be contextualised by an unprecedented Australian presentation of more than 150 exquisite ancient treasures of Chinese historic art and design lent by leading museums and archaeological sites from across Shaanxi province. These include priceless gold, jade and bronze artefacts that date from the Western Zhou through to the Han dynasties (1046 BC – 220AD). Illuminating more than a millennium of Chinese history, the exhibition will showcase the magnificence and authority of the once-entombed figures and reveal, through the intricate display of accompanying objects and artefacts, the sophistication that characterised the formative years of Chinese civilisation.

Presented in parallel, Cai Guo-Qiang: The Transient Landscape, will see contemporary artist, Cai Guo-Qiang, create all new art works inspired by his home country’s culture and its enduring philosophical traditions, including a monumental installation of 10,000 suspended porcelain birds. Spiralling over visitors’ heads, the birds create a three-dimensional impression of a calligraphic drawing of the sacred Mount Li, the site of the ancient tomb of China’s first emperor, Qin Shihuang, and his warriors. Cai will collaborate on the exhibition’s design, creating breathtaking immersive environments for the presentation of both his work and the Terracotta Warriors.

Drawing on Cai’s understanding of ancient Chinese culture and his belief that a dialogue with tradition and history can invigorate contemporary art, he will also create a monumental porcelain sculpture of peonies, placed at the centre of a 360-degree gunpowder drawing.

Tony Ellwood AM, Director, NGV said: ‘Thirty-six years ago, in 1982, the National Gallery of Victoria presented the first international exhibition of China’s ancient Terracotta Warriors only several years after their discovery. History will be made again in 2019, when the Qin Emperor’s Terracotta Army will return to the NGV for the 2019 Melbourne Winter Masterpieces exhibition series – this time in a sophisticated dialogue with the work one of China’s most celebrated contemporary artists, Cai Guo-Qiang.’

Of the parallel presentation, Cai said: ‘They are two rivers of time separated by two millennia, each creating a course at their own individual speed across a series of shared galleries. The ancient and the contemporary – two surges of energy that crisscross, pull, interact and complement each other, generating a powerful tension and contrast, each attracting and resisting the other.’

Jeff Xu, Founder and Managing Director, Golden Age Group said: ‘This exhibition will inspire Australian and international audiences to delve deeper into the many rich and diverse facets of China’s heritage. As Principal Partner, Golden Age is pleased to support such an ambitious world-exclusive showing in Victoria,  demonstrating our commitment to Melbourne as the cultural capital. We believe this exhibition will leave a lasting impression on this city for decades to come.’

This exhibition was organised by the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, in partnership with Shaanxi Provincial Cultural Relics Bureau, Shaanxi History Museum, Shaanxi Cultural Heritage Promotion Centre, and Emperor Qin Shihuang’s Mausoleum Site Museum of the People’s Republic of China.

Press release from the National Gallery of Victoria [Online] Cited 14/07/2019

 

Armoured general 铠甲将军俑 Qin dynasty, 221 - 207 BCE

Armoured general 铠甲将军俑 Qin dynasty, 221 - 207 BCE

Armoured general 铠甲将军俑 Qin dynasty, 221 - 207 BCE

 

Armoured general
铠甲将军俑
Qin dynasty, 221 – 207 BCE
Earthenware
Emperor Qin Shihuang’s Mausoleum Site Museum, Xi’an

 

 

This general, the largest of the terracotta warriors in the exhibition, has a distinguished beard and moustache and displays a stance of importance. His position of authority is indicated by his headdress, which is the same style as that of the adjacent unarmoured general, and is further enforced by decorative tassels on his chest and back that act as insignias of rank. Generals and other high-ranking officers wore long armoured tunics that tapered from the waist to a triangular shape at the front, protecting their vital organs.

Wall text from the exhibition

 

Armoured military officer 中级铠甲军吏俑 Qin dynasty, 221 - 207 BCE

Armoured military officer 中级铠甲军吏俑 Qin dynasty, 221 - 207 BCE

Armoured military officer 中级铠甲军吏俑 Qin dynasty, 221 - 207 BCE