Posts Tagged ‘Joseph Nicéphore Niépce

13
Jan
14

Exhibition: ‘Itinerant Languages of Photography’ at the Princeton University Art Museum, Princeton

Exhibition dates: 7th September 2013 – 19th January 2014

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“The work of memory collapses time.”

Walter Benjamin

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Another eclectic posting this time featuring Brazilian, Mexican, Spanish and Argentine work. There are some cracking images from the likes of Marc Ferrez, Graciela Iturbide and Joan Colom. “The Itinerant Languages of Photography begins with a simple axiom: that photography can never remain in a single place or time.” A good starting point because photographs always transcend time and space, conflating past, present and future into a movable, memorable point of departure: “the movement of photographs, as disembodied images and as physical artifacts, across time and space as well as across the boundaries of media and genres, including visual art, literature, and cinema.”

itinerant
ɪˈtɪn(ə)r(ə)nt,ʌɪ-/
adjective
adjective: itinerant

  1. 1.
    travelling from place to place.

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

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H. Delie and E. Bechard (French, active 1870s) 'Brazilian Emperor D. Pedro II, Empress D. Thereza Christina, and the Emperor's Retinue next to the Pyramids, Cairo, Egypt' 1871

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H. Delie and E. Bechard (French, active 1870s)
Brazilian Emperor D. Pedro II, Empress D. Thereza Christina, and the Emperor’s Retinue next to the Pyramids, Cairo, Egypt
1871
Albumen print
19.8 x 26.3 cm
D. Thereza Christina Maria Collection, Archive of the National Library Foundation, Brazil

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“This exhibition will examine the movement of photographs, as disembodied images and as physical artifacts, across time and space as well as across the boundaries of media and genres, including visual art, literature, and cinema. The culmination of a three-year interdisciplinary project sponsored by the Princeton Council for International Teaching and Research, the exhibition traces historical continuities from the 19th century to the present by juxtaposing materials from archival collections in Spain, Argentina, Brazil, and Mexico and works by modern and contemporary photographers from museum and private collections including Joan Fontcuberta, Marc Ferrez, Rosâgela Renno and Joan Colom. A fully illustrated catalogue accompanies the exhibition.

The Itinerant Languages of Photography begins with a simple axiom: that photography can never remain in a single place or time. Like postcards, photographs are moving signs that carry any number of open secrets. They travel from one forum to another – from the family album to the museum, from books into digitized forms – and with each recontextualization they redefine themselves and take on different and expanding meanings.

The project began in the fall of 2010 as an experimental three-year interdisciplinary program, sponsored by the Princeton Council for International Teaching and Research. Its aim was to initiate and develop new forms of international collaboration, across widely varied fields of expertise, that could bring together scholars, curators, photographers, and artists from Latin America, Europe, the United States, and potentially other areas of the world, all of whom are involved in international circuits of image production. Following on symposia held in Barcelona, Rio de Janeiro, Buenos Aires, and Mexico City, the project culminates in the exhibition now on view and the catalogue that accompanies it. Through more than ninety works from public and private collections in Argentina, Brazil, Mexico, Spain, and the United States, The Itinerant Languages of Photography explores the movement of photographs across different borders, offering a diverse and dynamic history of photography that draws new attention to the work of both well-known masters and emerging artists.

Taking our point of departure from Latin American and Catalonian archives, we sought to study the various means whereby photographs not only “speak” but also move across historical periods, national borders, and different media. In the context of an explosion of “world photography,” Latin America has been at the forefront of the development of new aesthetic paradigms in modern and contemporary photography. Across the Atlantic, Barcelona gave us access to Catalonian photographers with a long history of exchanges with Latin America and Europe. These different “sites” have helped us call attention to significant but often neglected histories of photography beyond the dominant European and American canon and, in particular, to the transnational dimension of image production at a time when photography is at the center of debates on the role of representation, authorship, and communication in global contemporary art and culture.

The digital revolution has created an explosion in the production, circulation, and reception of photographic images. Despite the many ominous predictions of photography’s imminent and irreversible disappearance, we all have become homines photographici – obsessive archivists taking and storing hundreds and thousands of images, exchanging photographs with other equally frenzied, spontaneous archivists around the globe. From this perspective, the ubiquity and mass circulation of images that describe the present are the latest manifestation of an itinerant condition that has characterized photography from its beginnings. The first image the viewer sees on entering the galleries is Joan Fontcuberta’s Googlegram: Niépce, based on the earliest-known photograph, Joseph Nicéphore Niépce’s View from the Window at Le Gras (ca. 1826). By processing the results of a Google image search for the words photo and foto through photomosaic software, Fontcuberta recreated Niépce’s photograph as a composite of ten thousand images from all over the world, what he calls “archive noise.” A meditation on the circulation and itinerancy of images, Fontcuberta’s Googlegram points to the potential for transformation inscribed within every photograph – from the very “first” photograph to all those produced today, made possible by innumerable and ever-changing technologies. Bringing together the past, present, and future of photography, the image sets the stage for the questions raised by the rest of the exhibition.

The first section, “Itinerant Photographs,” offers a glimpse into the global history of early photography by examining the circulation of images in Brazil in the second half of the nineteenth century. The works in this section, many of which have never been exhibited in the United States, are drawn from two important Brazilian collections: the Thereza Christina Maria Collection at the National Library of Brazil, which consists of more than twenty-one thousand images assembled by the Brazilian emperor Pedro II (1925–1891), and the Instituto Moreira Salles’s holdings of early Brazilian photographs. Included are works by the itinerant inventor and photographer Marc Ferrez, whose Brazilian landscapes circulated as postcards and helped define modern Brazil both inside and outside of the country.

The second section, “Itinerant Revolutions,” presents archival materials from Mexico’s Sistema Nacional de Fototecas and representative works by renowned international and Mexican modernist photographers. The notion of itinerancy appears here in two interrelated forms: first, in relation to the explosion of photographic desire ignited by the Mexican Revolution (1910-20), which produced a massive movement of images across the country and abroad; and, second, in relation to the development of a photographic revolution based on dialogues and exchanges between local photographers, such as Manuel and Lola Alvarez Bravo and their heirs, and an international artistic and political avant-garde of peripatetic photographers represented by Tina Modotti, Henri Cartier- Bresson, and Paul Strand.

The third section, “Itinerant Subjects,” reflects on the different ways in which photography approaches moving subjects. It draws materials from the Fundación Foto Colectania in Barcelona and for the first time introduces to the American public the work of the street photographer Joan Colom and features surrealistic cinematic photo-essays by the Mexican photojournalist Nacho López. Photographs by Eduardo Gil, Graciela Iturbide, Elsa Medina, Susan Meiselas, and Pedro Meyer depict various forms of political itinerancy and migration, and others stage the relation between walking and photographic modes of seeing, suggesting that ambulatory subjects represent the movement of photography itself.

“Itinerant Archives,” the last section of the exhibition, explores the ways in which photographs and photographic archives are duplicated and revitalized through quotation and recontextualization within a selection of works drawn mostly from Argentine and Brazilian experimental photographers. While artists such as Toni Catany and RES use quotation as a means of paying tribute to classic photography and literature, Rosângela Rennó, Esteban Pastorino Díaz, and Bruno Dubner offer conceptual meditations on the photographic condition by resurrecting older photographic technologies and processes, such as the analog camera, gum printing, and the photogram. Citation can also mobilize a recycled photograph’s dormant political meanings, as when, in 2004, Susan Meiselas returned to the sites where she had photographed events of the Nicaraguan revolution twenty-five years earlier and installed mural-size reproductions of her pictures.

Whether as project, symposia, exhibition, or catalogue, The Itinerant Languages of Photography seeks to explore, embody, and enact photography’s essential itinerancy, which defines a medium that, as the German media theorist Walter Benjamin so often told us, has no other fixity than its own incessant transformation, its endless movement across space and time.”

Text from the Princeton University Art Museum website

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Joan Fontcuberta (Born 1955, Barcelona) 'Googlegram: Niépce' 2005

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Joan Fontcuberta (Born 1955, Barcelona)
Googlegram: Niépce
2005
Inkjet print from a digital file, exhibition copy
120 x 160 cm
Courtesy of the artist

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Introduction

Photography – as a set of technologies, a series of languages, and an ever-expanding archive – resists being fixed in a single place or time. Like postcards, photographs are moving signs that travel from one context to another. They move from the intimacy of the family album into museums and galleries; they travel in print and in digital form. And as they circulate, they redefine themselves in each new context. This exhibition examines photography’s capacity to be exchanged, appropriated, and moved across different kinds of borders in a transnational, intermedial flow that has characterized the medium since its beginnings in the nineteenth century and that occurs now with unprecedented speed. The works on view come from Latin American and Spanish Catalonian photographic archives, which, touched as they are by regional histories and cultural and ethnic heterogeneity, tell the history of photography from a richly different perspective, offering a counterpoint to canonical accounts. They also suggest the future of the medium, with Latin American photography at the forefront of new aesthetic possibilities.

The exhibition is divided into four permeable sections, each invoking different aspects of photography’s capacity to converse across political, cultural, and temporal boundaries: Itinerant Photographs, Itinerant Revolutions, Itinerant Subjects, and Itinerant Archives. Each section takes as its point of departure, respectively, Brazilian, Mexican, Spanish, and Argentine work but also opens up to other archives in order to evoke photography’s itinerancy as one moves from one gallery to another. The varied ways in which the camera travels and speaks suggest that the only thing fixed about photography is its incessant transformation, its endless movement across space and time.

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Itinerant Photographs

To collect photographs is to collect the world.

Susan Sontag

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Taking and acquiring photographs have long been ways of archiving the world. The works in this section are drawn from two superb Brazilian collections: the Thereza Christina Maria Collection at the National Library of Brazil, assembled by the Brazilian emperor Dom Pedro II (1825-1891), and the Instituto Moreira Salles’s holdings of early Brazilian photographs. These collections offer a glimpse into the transnational history of early photography, as some of the photographs arrived in Rio de Janeiro from Europe, Africa, and North America. Many of them documented scientific advances and the process of modernization. At the same time the circulation of images of Brazil – its landscape and developing cities – solidified modern perceptions of the country. Even as the photographs on view here capture a nation in images, they also confirm that these Brazilian collections were never just Brazilian but were instead created by the movement of photographs across national and cultural borders.

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Revert Henrique Klumb (c. 1830s - c. 1886, born in Germany, active in Brazil) 'Petrópolis’s Mountain Range (Night View), Petrópolis, Rio de Janeiro' c. 1870

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Revert Henrique Klumb (c. 1830s – c. 1886, born in Germany, active in Brazil)
Petrópolis’s Mountain Range (Night View), Petrópolis, Rio de Janeiro
c. 1870
Albumen print
24 x 30 cm
Gilberto Ferrez Collection, Instituto Moreira Salles Archive, Brazil

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Marc Ferrez (Brazilian, 1843-1923) 'Soil Preparation for the Construction of the Railroad Tracks, Paranaguá-Curitiba Railroad, Paraná' c. 1882, printed later

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Marc Ferrez (Brazilian, 1843-1923)
Soil Preparation for the Construction of the Railroad Tracks, Paranaguá-Curitiba Railroad, Paraná
c. 1882, printed later
Gelatin silver print
23 x 29 cm
Gilberto Ferrez Collection, Instituto Moreira Salles Archive, Brazil

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Marc Ferrez (Brazilian, 1843-1923) 'Araucárias, Paraná' c. 1884 (printed later)

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Marc Ferrez (Brazilian, 1843-1923)
Araucárias, Paraná
c. 1884 (printed later)
Gelatin silver print
29 x 39 cm
Gilberto Ferrez Collection, Instituto Moreira Salles Archive, Brazil

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Marc Ferrez (Brazilian, 1843-1923) 'Entrance to Guanabara Bay' c. 1885

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Marc Ferrez (Brazilian, 1843-1923)
Entrance to Guanabara Bay
c. 1885
Albumen print, 18 x 35 cm
Gilberto Ferrez Collection, Instituto Moreira Salles Archive, Brazil

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Itinerant Revolutions

The Mexican Revolution sparked a transformation of artistic forms and cultural practices. Renowned Mexican photographers and foreign art photographers who traveled to Mexico – including Lola and Manuel Alvarez Bravo, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Tina Modotti, and Paul Strand – came together to challenge and transform the medium’s realist conventions. Rejecting the picturesque approach to portraying Mexico and its peoples adopted by traditional photography, they turned the medium into a site of experimentation. Their politically engaged modernist aesthetic – characterized by a strong interest in the popular classes, a taste for the surreal, and an effort to transform the photographic medium itself – persists today in the work of contemporary photographers such as Graciela Iturbide and Pablo Ortiz Monasterio.

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Unknown photographer. 'Rurales under Carlos Rincón Gallardo's Command Boarding Their Horses on Their Way to Aguascalientes' Nd

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Unknown photographer
Rurales under Carlos Rincón Gallardo’s Command Boarding Their Horses on Their Way to Aguascalientes
Nd
Inkjet print from a digital file, exhibition copy, 14.6 x 20.3 cm
Fondo Casasola, SINAFO-Fototeca Nacional del INAH

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Manuel Alvarez Bravo (Mexican, 1902-2002) 'Obrero en huelga, asesinado' (Striking worker, assassinated) (portfolio #13) 1934

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Manuel Alvarez Bravo (Mexican, 1902-2002)
Obrero en huelga, asesinado (Striking worker, assassinated) (portfolio #13)
1934
Gelatin silver print, 18.8 x 24.5 cm
Princeton University Art Museum, Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Gerald Levine

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Pablo Ortiz Monasterio (Born 1952, Mexico City) 'D.F.' 1987

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Pablo Ortiz Monasterio (Born 1952, Mexico City)
D.F.
1987
Gelatin silver print, 30.5 x 45.7 cm
Princeton University Art Museum, Museum purchase, David L. Meginnity, Class of 1958, Fund

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Graciela Iturbide (Born 1942, Mexico City; lives and works in Coyoacán, Mexico) 'Cementerio (Cemetery), Juchitán, Oaxaca' 1988

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Graciela Iturbide (Born 1942, Mexico City; lives and works in Coyoacán, Mexico)
Cementerio (Cemetery), Juchitán, Oaxaca
1988
Gelatin silver print, 32.2 x 22 cm
Princeton University Art Museum, Gift of Douglas C. James, Class of 1962

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Hugo Brehme (?) (German, 1882-1954, active in Mexico) 'Emiliano Zapata with Rifle, Sash, and Saber, Cuernavaca' June 1911

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Hugo Brehme (?) (German, 1882-1954, active in Mexico)
Emiliano Zapata with Rifle, Sash, and Saber, Cuernavaca
June 1911
Inkjet print from a digital file, exhibition copy, 25.4 x 17.8 cm
Fondo Casasola, SINAFO-Fototeca Nacional del INAH

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Itinerant Subjects

The image passes us by. We have to follow its movement as far as possible, but we must also accept that we can never entirely possess it. 

Georges Didi-Huberman

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No art has captured such a large number of people as photography. But as the camera wanders, so do its subjects, whether streetwalkers, pedestrians, migrants, or illegal border crossers. This section includes works by some of the most powerful street photographers in Spain and Latin America – including the Catalonian expressionist Joan Colom and the Mexican photographers Elsa Medina and Pablo Ortiz Monasterio, who use the lens as a political instrument to register everyday life and the impact of urban modernization. They employ a variety of strategies to capture moving subjects, from abstract composition and repetition to the creation of narrative series. Suggesting a relation between walking (or dancing) and photographic modes of seeing, between human movement and the camera’s agility, ambulatory subjects represent the movement of photography itself.

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Eduardo Gil (Born 1948, Buenos Aires) 'Siluetas y canas' (Silhouettes and cops) September 21-22, 1983

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Eduardo Gil (Born 1948, Buenos Aires)
Siluetas y canas (Silhouettes and cops)
September 21-22, 1983
from the series El siluetazo (The silhouette action), Buenos Aires, 1982-83
Gelatin silver print
31 x 50 cm
Princeton University Art Museum, Museum purchase, Philip F. Maritz, Class of 1983, Photography Acquisitions Fund

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Graciela Iturbide (Born 1942, Mexico City; lives and works in Coyoacán, Mexico) 'Mujer ángel, Desierto de Sonora, México' (Angel woman, Sonora Desert, Mexico) 1979 (printed later)

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Graciela Iturbide (Born 1942, Mexico City; lives and works in Coyoacán, Mexico)
Mujer ángel, Desierto de Sonora, México (Angel woman, Sonora Desert, Mexico)
1979 (printed later)
Gelatin silver print
24.8 x 33 cm
Private Collection

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Elsa Medina (Born 1952, Mexico City) 'El migrante (The migrant), Cañon Zapata, Tijuana, Baja California, México' 1987 (printed 2011)

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Elsa Medina (Born 1952, Mexico City)
El migrante (The migrant), Cañon Zapata, Tijuana, Baja California, México
1987 (printed 2011)
Gelatin silver print
21.2 x 32 cm
Princeton University Art Museum, Museum purchase, David L. Meginnity, Class of 1958, Fund

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Susan Meiselas (Born 1948, Baltimore; lives and works in New York City) 'Soldiers Searching Bus Passengers along the Northern Highway, El Salvador' 1980 (printed 2013)

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Susan Meiselas (Born 1948, Baltimore; lives and works in New York City)
Soldiers Searching Bus Passengers along the Northern Highway, El Salvador
1980 (printed 2013)
Gelatin silver print
20 x 30 cm
Courtesy of the artist

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Joan Colom (Born 1921, Barcelona) 'Fiesta Mayor' 1960

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Joan Colom (Born 1921, Barcelona)
Fiesta Mayor
1960
Gelatin silver print
40 x 30 cm
Collection Foto Colectania Foundation, Barcelona

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Joan Colom (Born 1921, Barcelona) 'Gente de la calle' (People on the street) 1958-64

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Joan Colom (Born 1921, Barcelona)
Gente de la calle (People on the street)
1958-64
Gelatin silver print
24 x 18.5 cm
Collection Foto Colectania Foundation, Barcelona

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Itinerant Archives

Eppur si muove (And yet it moves).

Galileo Galilei

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Photographs move not only when they are physically relocated but also when they reference another work or are themselves cited. Some of the works on view quote photography or literature to pay tribute to classic works; others reframe older photographs whose original meanings are vanishing; and still others exploit earlier photographic technologies such as the analog camera or the photogram. Citation can also mobilize a recycled photograph’s dormant political meanings, as when, in 2004, Susan Meiselas returned to the sites where she had photographed events of the Nicaraguan revolution twenty-five years earlier and installed mural-size reproductions of her pictures. The works in this section meditate on the nature of the photographic archive in general and on the relation between different stages in photography’s history. In doing so, they suggest that through different kinds of citation the photographic archive is constantly revived, unsettled, and undermined.

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Marcelo Brodsky (Born 1954, Buenos Aires) 'La camiseta' (The undershirt) 1979 (printed 2012)

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Marcelo Brodsky (Born 1954, Buenos Aires)
La camiseta (The undershirt)
1979 (printed 2012)
LAMBDA digital photographic print, 62 x 53.5 cm
Princeton University Art Museum, Museum purchase, Fowler McCormick, Class of 1921, Fund

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Susan Meiselas (Born 1948, Baltimore; lives and works in New York City) 'Still from Reframing History' 2004 (printed 2013)

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Susan Meiselas (Born 1948, Baltimore; lives and works in New York City)
Still from Reframing History
2004 (printed 2013)
Chromogenic print, 60.5 x 76.2 cm
Courtesy of the artist

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Rosângela Rennó (Born 1962, Belo Horizonte, Brazil; lives and works in Rio de Janeiro) 'A Última Foto / The Last Photo: Eduardo Brandão Holga 120' 2006

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Rosângela Rennó (Born 1962, Belo Horizonte, Brazil; lives and works in Rio de Janeiro)
A Última Foto / The Last Photo: Eduardo Brandão Holga 120
2006
Framed color photograph and Holga 120S camera (diptych), print: 78 x 78 x 9.5 cm; camera: 14.8 x 21.9 x 10 cm
Collection of Jorge G. Mora

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Princeton University Art Museum
Princeton, NJ 08544

Opening hours:
Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday, 10.00 am – 5.00 pm
Thursday, 10.00 am – 10.00 pm, and Sunday 1.00 – 5.00 pm

Princeton University Art Museum website

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28
Dec
13

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

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

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

Marcus

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

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Paul Strand. 'Wall Street' 1915

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Paul Strand
Wall Street
1915

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

Paul Strand studied under Lewis Hine and Alfred Steiglitz. Although he set up in New York as a portriat photgrapher, Strand often visited Stieglitz’s gallery to see the new European painting which it exhibited. In 1914-15, under the influence of this new form of art, Strand turned from soft-focus pictoralism towards abstraction. It was in this spirit that the above photo was taken, originally named, “Pedestrians raked by morning light in a canyon of commerce”. Strand did not intended to show Wall Street in a bad light, he admitted. However, as the Great Depression happened (criticism was squarely towards Wall Street back then as it is today) and Strand turned more communist, he later spoke of “sinister windows” and “blind shapes” inherent in the above picture.

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

Text from the Iconic Photos blog

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Robert Frank (American, born Switzerland, 1924) 'Trolley - New Orleans' 1955

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Robert Frank (American, born Switzerland, 1924)
Trolley – New Orleans
1955
Gelatin silver print
Image: 22.9 x 34 cm (9 x 13 3/8 in.)
Trish and Jan de Bont

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

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Arthur Rothstein (American, 1915-1985)
Girl at Gee’s Bend
1937
Silver gelatin print
Image: 40 x 49.7 cm (15 3/4 x 19 9/16 in.)
The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Paul Strand (American, 1890-1976)
Barn Window and Ice, East Jamaica, Vermont
1943
Gelatin silver print
Image (trimmed to mount): 19.4 x 24.3 cm (7 5/8 x 9 9/16 in.)
The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles
© Aperture Foundation

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

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Brett Weston (American, 1911-1993)
Rain Drops
1953
Gelatin silver print
Image: 20.2 x 25 cm (7 15/16 x 9 13/16 in.)
The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, Gift of Christian K. Keesee
© The Brett Weston Archive

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

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

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

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

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Shop Windows and Architecture

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

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

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The Window as Social Documentary

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

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The Window as a Conceptual Tool

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

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

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

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

Press release from the J. Paul Getty Museum website

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Minor White. 'Windowsill daydreaming' 1958

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

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

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

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Walker Evans. 'Penny Picture Display, Savannah' 1936

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Walker Evans (American, 1903-1975)
Penny Picture Display, Savannah / Photographer’s Window Display, Birmingham, Alabama / Studio Portraits, Birmingham, Alabama
1936
Gelatin silver print
Image: 25.6 x 19.9 cm (10 1/16 x 7 7/8 in.)
The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles

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

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Eugène Atget (French, 1857-1927)
Petit Bacchus, 61, rue St. Louis en l’Ile (The Little Bacchus Café, rue St. Louis en l’Ile)
1901-1902
Albumen silver print
Image: 22.1 x 17.8 cm (8 11/16 x 7 in.)
The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles

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

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Alfred Stieglitz (American, 1864-1946)
[From My Window at the Shelton, North]
1931
Gelatin silver print
Image (trimmed to mount): 24.3 x 19.1 cm (9 9/16 x 7 1/2 in.)
The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles
© Georgia O’Keeffe Museum

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

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Yuki Onodera (Japanese, born 1962)
Look Out the Window, No. 18
2000
Gelatin silver print
Image: 59 x 49.2 cm (23 1/4 x 19 3/8 in.)
The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, Purchased with funds provided by the Photographs Council
© Yuki Onodera

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

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Shizuka Yokomizo (Japanese, born 1966)
Stranger (15)
1998-2000
Chromogenic print
Mount: 124.5 x 104.9 cm (49 x 41 5/16 in.)
The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles,
Purchased with funds provided by the Photographs Council
© Shizuka Yokomizo

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

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Alex Prager (American, born 1979)
Megan
2007
Chromogenic print
Framed: 125.7 x 62.9 cm (49 1/2 x 24 3/4 in.)
Michael and Jane Wilson

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gm_34112801-WEB

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Gregory Crewdson (American, born 1962)
Untitled from the series Twilight
2002
Chromogenic print
Image: 122 x 152 cm (48 1/16 x 59 13/16 in.)
The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles
Gift of Trish and Jan de Bont
© Gregory Crewdson

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

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

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

Opening hours:
Tues – Friday 10 am – 5.30 pm
Saturday 10 am – 9 pm
Sunday 10 am – 9 pm
Monday closed

The J. Paul Getty Museum website

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Dr Marcus Bunyan

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

Marcus Bunyan black and white archive: ‘Mask’ 1994

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