Posts Tagged ‘The Thinker


Exhibition: ‘Unseen: 35 Years of Collecting Photographs’ at the J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles

Exhibition dates: 17th December 2019 – 8th March 2020


Weegee (Arthur Fellig) (American, born Austria, 1899-1968) '[Calypso]' about 1944; before 1946


Weegee (Arthur Fellig) (American born Austria, 1899-1968)
about 1944; before 1946
Gelatin silver print
26.2 x 33.3cm (10 5/16 x 13 1/8 in.)
The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles
© International Center of Photography



Imagine having these photographs in your collection!

My particular favourite is Hiromu Kira’s The Thinker (about 1930). For me it sums up our singular 1 thoughtful 2 imaginative 3 ephemeral 4 ether/real 5 existence.

“Aether is the fifth element in the series of classical elements thought to make up our experience of the universe… Although the Aether goes by as many names as there are cultures that have referenced it, the general meaning always transcends and includes the same four “material” elements [earth, air, water, fire]. It is sometimes more generally translated simply as “Spirit” when referring to an incorporeal living force behind all things. In Japanese, it is considered to be the void through which all other elements come into existence.” (Adam Amorastreya. “The End of the Aether,” on the Resonance website Feb 16, 2015 [Online] Cited 23/02/2020)

Dr Marcus Bunyan

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.



Carleton Watkins (American, 1829-1916) '[Guadalupe Mill]' 1860


Carleton Watkins (American, 1829-1916)
[Guadalupe Mill]
Salted paper print
Image (dome-topped): 33.8 × 41.6cm (13 5/16 × 16 3/8 in.)
The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles


Martin Munkácsi (American, born Hungary, 1896-1963) 'The Goalie Gets There a Split Second Too Late' about 1923


Martin Munkácsi (American born Hungary, 1896-1963)
The Goalie Gets There a Split Second Too Late
about 1923
Gelatin silver print
29.8 × 36.7cm (11 3/4 × 14 7/16 in.)
The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles
© Estate of Martin Munkácsi, Courtesy Howard Greenberg Gallery, New York


Hiromu Kira (American, 1898-1991) 'The Thinker' about 1930


Hiromu Kira (American, 1898-1991)
The Thinker
about 1930
Gelatin silver print
27.9 × 35.1cm (11 × 13 13/16 in.)
The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles
© Sadamura Family Trust



Hiromu Kira (1898-1991) was one of the most successful and well-known Japanese American photographers in prewar Los Angeles. He was born in Waipahu, O’ahu, Hawai’i on April 5, 1898, but was sent to Kumamoto, Japan, for his early education. When he was eighteen years old, he returned to the United States and settled in Seattle, Washington, where he first became interested in photography. In 1923, he submitted prints to the Seattle Photography Salon which accepted two of the photographs. In 1923, his work was accepted in the Pittsburg Salon and the Annual Competition of American Photography. He found work at the camera department of a local Seattle pharmacy and began meeting other Issei, Nisei and Kibei photographers such as Kyo Koike and joined the Seattle Camera Club.

In 1926, Kira moved to Los Angeles with his wife and two young children. Although he was never a member of the Japanese Camera Pictorialists of California, a group that was active in Los Angeles at that time, he developed strong friendships with club members associated with the pictorialist movement of the 1920s and ’30s such as K. Asaishi and T. K. Shindo. In 1928, Kira was named an associate of the Royal Photography Society, and the following year he was made a full fellow and began exhibiting both nationally and internationally. In 1929 alone, Kira exhibited ninety-six works in twenty-five different shows. In the late twenties, he worked at T. Iwata’s art store. In 1931, his photograph The Thinker, made while showing a customer how to use his newly purchased camera properly, appeared on the March 1931 issue of Vanity Fair magazine.

On December 5, two days before the attack on Pearl Harbor, Kira was selected to be included in the 25th Annual International Salon of the Camera Pictorialists of Los Angeles. Within a few months, he was forced to store his camera, photography books and prints in the basement of the Nishi Hongwanji Buddhist Temple in Little Tokyo, Los Angeles for the duration of World War II. He and his family were incarcerated at Santa Anita Assembly Center and the Gila River, Arizona concentration camp from 1942-1944, leaving the latter in April 1944.

Following his release, he lived briefly in Chicago before returning to Los Angeles in 1946, where he remained for the rest of his life. In Los Angeles, he worked as a photo retoucher and printer for the Disney, RKO and Columbia Picture studios but never exhibited again as he had before the war.

Text from the Hiromu Kira page on the Densho Encyclopedia website [Online] Cited 23/02/2020


Marinus Jacob Kjeldgaard (Danish, 1884-1964, active Paris, France late 1930s - late 1940s) '[Collage: Balance of Powers]' about 1939


Marinus Jacob Kjeldgaard (Danish, 1884-1964, active Paris, France late 1930s – late 1940s)
[Collage: Balance of Powers]
about 1939
Gelatin silver print
28.5 × 32cm (11 1/4 × 12 5/8 in.)
The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles
© Estate of Marinus Jacob Kjeldgaard


Paul Outerbridge (American, 1896-1958) '[Egg in Spotlight]' 1943


Paul Outerbridge (American, 1896-1958)
[Egg in Spotlight]
Gelatin silver print
26.4x 34.4cm (10 3/8 x 13 9/16 in.)
The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles
© 2019 G. Ray Hawkins Gallery, Beverly Hills, CA


Emil Cadoo (American, 1926-2002) 'Children of Harlem' 1965


Emil Cadoo (American, 1926-2002)
Children of Harlem
Gelatin silver print
20.3 × 25.2cm (8 × 9 15/16 in.)
The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, Gift of Joyce Cadoo / Janos Gat Gallery
© Estate of Emil Cadoo, courtesy of Janos Gat Gallery


Anthony Hernandez (American, b. 1947) 'Los Angeles #1' 1969


Anthony Hernandez (American, b. 1947)
Los Angeles #1
Gelatin silver print
18.9 × 28.4cm (7 7/16 × 11 3/16 in.)
The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, Purchased in part with funds provided by the Photographs Council
© Anthony Hernandez


William Eggleston (American, b. 1939) 'Dolls on Cadillac, Memphis' 1972


William Eggleston (American, b. 1939)
Dolls on Cadillac, Memphis
Chromogenic print
25.4 × 38.1cm (10 × 15 in.)
The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles
© Eggleston Artistic Trust


William Wegman (American, b, 1943) 'Dog and Ball' 1973


William Wegman (American, b, 1943)
Dog and Ball
Gelatin silver print
The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles
© William Wegman


Marketa Luskacova (Czech, born 1944) 'Sclater St, Woman with Baby and Girl' 1975


Markéta Luskačová (Czech, b. 1944)
Sclater St, Woman with Baby and Girl
Gelatin silver print
21 x 31.8cm (8 1/4 x 12 1/2 in.)
The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles
© Markéta Luskačová



Markéta Luskačová (born 1944) is a Czech photographer known for her series of photographs taken in Slovakia, Britain and elsewhere. Considered one of the best Czech social photographers to date, since the 1990s she has photographed children in the Czech Republic, Slovakia, and also Poland…

In the 1970s and 1980s, the communist censorship attempted to conceal her international reputation. Her works were banned in Czechoslovakia, and the catalogues for the exhibition Pilgrims in the Victoria and Albert Museum were lost on their way to Czechoslovakia.

Luskačová started photographing London’s markets in 1974. In the markets of Portobello Road, Brixton and Spitalfields, she “[found] a vivid Dickensian staging”.

In 2016 she self-published a collection of photographs of street musicians, mostly taken in the markets of east London, under the title To Remember – London Street Musicians 1975-1990, and with an introduction by John Berger.

Text from the Wikipedia website [Online] Cited 23/02/2020


Marketa Luskacova (Czech, b. 1944) 'Men around Fire, Spitalfields Market' Negative 1976, print 1991


Markéta Luskačová (Czech, b. 1944)
Men around Fire, Spitalfields Market
Negative 1976, print 1991
Gelatin silver print
22.8 x 32.9cm (9 x 12 15/16 in.)
The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles
© Markéta Luskačová


Shigeichi Nagano (Japanese, born 1925, active Tokyo, Japan) '[Tokyo, Aobadai (Nishi Saigoyama Park), Meguro Ward]' 1988


Shigeichi Nagano (Japanese, 1925-2019, active Tokyo, Japan)
[Tokyo, Aobadai (Nishi Saigoyama Park), Meguro Ward]
Gelatin silver print
26 × 39.4cm (10 1/4 × 15 1/2 in.)
The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, Purchased with funds provided by the Photographs Council
© Shigeichi Nagano



During the 1960s Nagano observed the period of intense economic growth in Japan, depicting the lives of Tokyo’s sarariman with some humour. The photographs of this period were only published in book form much later, as Dorīmu eiji and 1960 (1978 and 1990 respectively).

Nagano exhibited recent examples of his street photography in 1986, winning the Ina Nobuo Award. He published several books of his works since then, and won a number of awards. Nagano had a major retrospective at the Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography in 2000.

Nagano died two months short of his 94th birthday, on January 30, 2019.

Text from the Wikipedia website


Catherine Opie (American, b. 1961) 'Untitled #15' 1997


Catherine Opie (American, b. 1961)
Untitled #15
Inkjet print
40.6 × 104.1cm (16 × 41 in.)
The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles
© Catherine Opie


Nan Goldin (American, b. 1953) 'Self Portrait, Red, Zurich' 2002


Nan Goldin (American, b. 1953)
Self Portrait, Red, Zurich
Silver-dye bleach print
Framed (outer dim): 72.4 x 104.1cm (28 1/2 x 41 in.)
The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles
© Nan Goldin, courtesy of Matthew Marks Gallery and the artist


Hong Hao (Chinese, b. 1965) 'My Things No. 5 - 5,000 Pieces of Rubbish' 2002


Hong Hao (Chinese, b. 1965)
My Things No. 5 – 5,000 Pieces of Rubbish
Chromogenic print
120 × 210.8cm (47 1/4 × 83 in.)
The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, Anonymous Gift
© Hong Hao, Courtesy of Chambers Fine Art


Veronika Kellndorfer (German, b. 1962) 'Succulent Screen' 2007


Veronika Kellndorfer (German, b. 1962)
Succulent Screen
Silkscreen print on glass
288 × 351.5cm (113 3/8 × 138 3/8 in.)
Gift of Christopher Grimes in honour of Virginia Heckert
The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles
© Veronika Kellndorfer



A three-panel silkscreen print on glass, Succulent Screen depicts a detail view of one of the signature miter-cut windows of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Freeman House. The house was built in the Hollywood Hills in 1923, was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1971 as a California Historical Landmark and as Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monument #247 in 1981; it was bequeathed to the USC School of Architecture in 1986.

Text from the Getty Museum website


Sharon Core (American, b. 1965) 'Early American, Strawberries and Ostrich Egg' 2007


Sharon Core (American, b. 1965)
Early American, Strawberries and Ostrich Egg
Chromogenic print
42.8 x 56.8cm (16 7/8 x 22 3/8 in.)
The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles
© Sharon Core



The Getty Museum holds one of the largest collections of photographs in the United States, with more than 148,000 prints. However, only a small percentage of these have ever been exhibited at the Museum. To celebrate the 35th anniversary of the founding of the Department of Photographs, the Getty Museum is exhibiting 200 of these never-before-seen photographs and pull back the curtain on the work of the many professionals who care for this important collection in Unseen: 35 Years of Collecting Photographs, on view December 17, 2019 – March 8, 2020.

“Rather than showcasing again the best-known highlights of the collection, the time is right to dig deeper into our extraordinary holdings and present a selection of never-before-seen treasures. I have no doubt that visitors will be intrigued and delighted by the diversity and quality of the collection, whose riches will support exhibition and research well into the decades ahead,” says Timothy Potts, director of the J. Paul Getty Museum.

The exhibition includes photographs by dozens of artists from the birth of the medium in the mid-19th century to the present day. The selection also encompasses a variety of photographic processes, including the delicate cyanotypes of Anna Atkins (British, 1799-1871), Polaroids by Carrie Mae Weems (American, born 1953) and Mary Ellen Mark (American, 1940-2015) and an architectural photographic silkscreen on glass by Veronika Kellndorfer (German, born 1962).

Visual associations among photographs from different places and times illuminate the breadth of the Getty’s holdings and underscore a sense of continuity and change within the history of the medium. The curators have also personalised some of the labels in the central galleries to give voice to their individual insights and perspectives.


Growth of the collection

In 1984, as the J. Paul Getty Trust was in the early stages of conceiving what would eventually become the Getty Center, the Getty Museum created its Department of Photographs. It did so with the acquisition of several world-famous private collections, including those of Sam Wagstaff, André Jammes, Arnold Crane, and Volker Kahmen and Georg Heusch. These dramatic acquisitions immediately established the Museum as a leading center for photography.

While the founding collections are particularly strong in 19th and early 20th century European and American work, the department now embraces contemporary photography and, increasingly, work produced around the world. The collection continues to evolve, has been shaped by several generations of curators and benefits from the generosity of patrons and collectors.


Behind the scenes

In addition to the photographs on view, the exhibition spotlights members of Getty staff who care for, handle, and monitor these works of art.

“What the general public may not realise is that before a single photograph is hung on a wall, the object and its related data is managed by teams of professional conservators, registrars, curators, mount-makers, and many others,” says Jim Ganz, senior curator of photographs at the Getty Museum. “In addition to exposing works of art in the collection that are not well known, we wanted to shed light on the largely hidden activity that goes into caring for such a collection.”


Collecting Contemporary Photography

The department’s collecting of contemporary photography has been given strong encouragement by the Getty Museum Photographs Council, and a section of the exhibition will be dedicated to objects purchased with the Council’s funding. Established in 2005, this group supports the department’s curatorial program, especially with the acquisition of works made after 1945 by artists not yet represented or underrepresented in the collection. Since its founding, the Council has contributed over $3 million toward the purchase of nearly five hundred photographs by artists from Argentina, Australia, Canada, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, South Africa, and Taiwan, as well as Europe and the United States.


Looking ahead

The exhibition also looks towards the future of the collection, and includes a gallery of very newly-acquired works by Laura Aguilar (American, 1959-2018), Osamu Shiihara (Japanese, 1905-1974), as well as highlights of the Dennis Reed collection of photographs by Japanese American photographers. The selection represents the department’s strengthening of diversity in front of and behind the camera, the collection of works relevant to Southern California communities, and the acquisition of photographs that expand the understanding of the history of the medium.

“With this exhibition we celebrate the past 35 years of collecting, and look forward to the collection’s continued expansion, encompassing important work by artists all over the world and across three centuries,” adds Potts.

Unseen: 35 Years of Collecting Photographs is on view December 17, 2019 – March 8, 2020 at the Getty Center. The exhibition is organised by Jim Ganz, senior curator of photographs at the Getty Museum in collaboration with Getty curators Mazie Harris, Virginia Heckert, Karen Hellman, Arpad Kovacs, Amanda Maddox, and Paul Martineau.

Press release from the J. Paul Getty Museum [Online] Cited 09/20/2020


Hiroshi Sugimoto (Japanese, born 1948) 'Botanical Specimen (Erica mutabolis), March 1839' 2009


Hiroshi Sugimoto (Japanese, born 1948)
Botanical Specimen (Erica mutabolis), March 1839
Toned gelatin silver print
93.7 x 74.9cm (36 7/8 x 29 1/2 in.)
© Hiroshi Sugimoto


Julia Margaret Cameron (British, born India, 1815-1879) '[Spring]' 1873


Julia Margaret Cameron (British born India, 1815-1879)
Albumen silver print
35.4 × 25.7cm (13 15/16 × 10 1/8 in.)
The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles


Reverend William Ellis (British, 1794-1872) and Samuel Smith. '[Portrait of a Black Couple]' about 1873


Reverend William Ellis (British, 1794-1872) and Samuel Smith
[Portrait of a Black Couple]
about 1873
Albumen silver print
24.1 × 18.6cm (9 1/2 × 7 5/16 in.)
The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles


Prince Roland Napoleon Bonaparte (French, 1858-1924) 'Jacobus Huch, 26 ans' about 1888


Prince Roland Napoleon Bonaparte (French, 1858-1924)
Jacobus Huch, 26 ans
about 1888
Albumen silver print
15.9 × 10.9cm (6 1/4 × 4 5/16 in.)
The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles


Underwood & Underwood (American, founded 1881, dissolved 1940s) 'Les Chiens du Front, eux-mems, portent des masques contre les gaz' May 27, 1917


Underwood & Underwood (American, founded 1881, dissolved 1940s)
Les Chiens du Front, eux-mems, portent des masques contre les gaz
May 27, 1917
22 × 20.4cm (8 11/16 × 8 1/16 in.)
The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles


László Moholy-Nagy (American, born Hungary, 1895-1946) '[The Law of the Series]' 1925


László Moholy-Nagy (American born Hungary, 1895-1946)
[The Law of the Series]
Gelatin silver print
21.6 × 16.2cm (8 1/2 × 6 3/8 in.)
The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles
© 2019 Estate of László Moholy-Nagy / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York


Martin Munkácsi (American, born Hungary, 1896-1963) 'Big Dummies' 1927-1933


Martin Munkácsi (American born Hungary, 1896-1963)
Big Dummies
Gelatin silver print
33.5 × 26.7cm (13 3/16 × 10 1/2 in.)
The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles
© Estate of Martin Munkácsi, Courtesy Howard Greenberg Gallery, New York



Munkácsi was a newspaper writer and photographer in Hungary, specialising in sports. At the time, sports action photography could only be done in bright light outdoors. Munkácsi’s innovation was to make sport photographs as meticulously composed action photographs, which required both artistic and technical skill.

Munkácsi’s break was to happen upon a fatal brawl, which he photographed. Those photos affected the outcome of the trial of the accused killer, and gave Munkácsi considerable notoriety. That notoriety helped him get a job in Berlin in 1928, for Berliner Illustrirte Zeitung, where his first published photo was a motorcycle splashing its way through a puddle. He also worked for the fashion magazine Die Dame.

More than just sports and fashion, he photographed Berliners, rich and poor, in all their activities. He traveled to Turkey, Sicily, Egypt, London, New York, and Liberia, for photo spreads in Berliner Illustrirte Zeitung.

The speed of the modern age and the excitement of new photographic viewpoints enthralled him, especially flying. There are aerial photographs; there are air-to-air photographs of a flying school for women; there are photographs from a Zeppelin, including the ones on his trip to Brazil, where he crossed over a boat whose passengers wave to the airship above.

On 21 March 1933, he photographed the fateful Day of Potsdam, when the aged President Paul von Hindenburg handed Germany over to Adolf Hitler. On assignment for Berliner Illustrirte Zeitung, he photographed Hitler’s inner circle, although he was a Jewish foreigner.

Munkácsi left for New York City… Munkácsi died in poverty and controversy. Several universities and museums declined to accept his archives, and they were scattered around the world.

Text from the Wikipedia website [Online] Cited 23/02/2020


Erwin Blumenfeld (American, born Germany, 1897-1969) 'Hitlerfresse (Hitler's Mug)' January 30, 1933


Erwin Blumenfeld (American born Germany, 1897-1969)
Hitlerfresse (Hitler’s Mug)
January 30, 1933
Gelatin silver print collage with ink
29.2 × 21.3cm (11 1/2 × 8 3/8 in.)
The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles
© The Estate of Erwin Blumenfeld



Blumenfeld was born in Berlin on 26 January 1897. As a young man he worked in the clothes trade and wrote poetry. In 1918 he went to Amsterdam, where he came into contact with Paul Citroen and Georg Grosz. In 1933 he made a photomontage showing Hitler as a skull with a swastika on its forehead; this image was later used in Allied propaganda material in 1943.

He married Lena Citroen, with whom he had three children, in 1921. In 1922 he started a leather goods shop, which failed in 1935. He moved to Paris, where in 1936 he set up as a photographer and did free-lance work for French Vogue. After the outbreak of the Second World War he was placed in an internment camp; in 1941 he was able to emigrate to the United States. There he soon became a successful and well-paid fashion photographer, and worked as a free-lancer for Harper’s Bazaar, Life and American Vogue. Blumenfeld died in Rome on 4 July 1969.

Text from the Wikipedia website [Online] Cited 23/02/3030


Paul Wolff (German, 1887-1951) and Dr Wolff & Tritschler OHG (German, founded 1927, dissolved 1963) '[Dog at the beach]' 1936


Paul Wolff (German, 1887-1951) and Dr Wolff & Tritschler OHG (German, founded 1927, dissolved 1963)
[Dog at the beach]
Gelatin silver print
23.4 x 17.8cm (9 3/16 x 7 in.)
The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles
© Dr Paul Wolff & Tritschler, Historisches Bildarchiv, D-77654 Offenburg, Germany


Barbara Morgan (American, 1900 - 1992) 'City Shell' 1938


Barbara Morgan (American, 1900-1992)
City Shell
Gelatin silver print
49.2 × 39.4cm (19 3/8 × 15 1/2 in.)
Reproduced courtesy of the Barbara and Willard Morgan Photographs and Papers, Library Special Collections, Charles E. Young Research Library, UCLA
The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles


Walker Evans (American, 1903 - 1975) '[Two Giraffes, Circus Winter Quarters, Sarasota]' 1941


Walker Evans (American, 1903-1975)
[Two Giraffes, Circus Winter Quarters, Sarasota]
Gelatin silver print
15.1 × 18.3cm (5 15/16 × 7 3/16 in.)
The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles
© Walker Evans Archive, The Metropolitan Museum of Art


Horst P. Horst (American, born Germany, 1906-1999) 'Hands, Hands' 1941


Horst P. Horst (American born Germany, 1906-1999)
Hands, Hands
Platinum and palladium print
23.7 × 17cm (9 5/16 × 6 11/16 in.)
The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, Gift of Manfred Heiting
© The Estate of Horst P. Horst and Condé Nast


Erwin Blumenfeld (American, born Germany, 1897-1969) 'Maroua Motherwell, New York' 1941-1943


Erwin Blumenfeld (American, born Germany, 1897-1969)
Maroua Motherwell, New York
Gelatin silver print
48.5 x 38.7cm (19 1/8 x 15 1/4 in.)
The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles
© The Estate of Erwin Blumenfeld


Henry Holmes Smith (American, 1909-1986) 'Photography Student' 1947


Henry Holmes Smith (American, 1909-1986)
Photography Student
Gelatin silver print
11.4 × 9.6cm (4 1/2 × 3 3/4 in.)
The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, Gift of the Smith Family Trust
© J. Paul Getty Trust



Henry Holmes Smith (1909-1986) was an American photographer and one of the most influential fine art photography teachers of the mid 20th century. He was inspired by the work that had been done at the German Bauhaus and in 1937 was invited to teach photography at the New Bauhaus being founded by Moholy-Nagy in Chicago. After World War II, he spent many years teaching at Indiana University. His students included Jerry Uelsmann, Jack Welpott, Robert W. Fichter, Betty Hahn and Jaromir Stephany.

Smith was often involved in the cutting edge of photographic techniques: in 1931 he started experimenting with high-speed flash photography of action subjects, and started doing colour work in 1936 when few people considered it a serious artistic medium. His later images were nearly all abstract, often made directly (without a camera, i.e. like photograms), for instance images created by refracting light through splashes of water and corn syrup on a glass plate. However, although acclaimed as a photographic teacher, Holmes’ own photographs and other images did not achieve any real recognition from his peers.

Text from the Wikipedia website [Online] Cited 23/02/2020


Andreas Feininger (American, born France, 1906-1999) 'Elegant Disk Clam, dosinia elegans, Conrad' 1948


Andreas Feininger (American born France, 1906-1999)
Elegant Disk Clam, dosinia elegans, Conrad
Gelatin silver print
30.4 x 23.8cm (11 15/16 x 9 3/8 in.)
The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles
© Estate of Gertrud E. Feininger


Alexander Rodchenko (Russian, 1891 - 1956) 'Roll (of Film)' 1950


Alexander Rodchenko (Russian, 1891-1956)
Roll (of Film)
Gelatin silver print
30.5 × 24cm (12 × 9 7/16 in.)
The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles
© 2019 Estate of Alexander Rodchenko / UPRAVIS, Moscow / Artists Rights Society, NY


Otto Steinert (German, 1915-1978) 'Schlammweiher 2' Negative 1953, print about 1960s


Otto Steinert (German, 1915-1978)
Schlammweiher 2
Negative 1953, print about 1960s
Gelatin silver print
39.6 x 29.1cm (15 9/16 x 11 7/16 in.)
The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles
Courtesy Galerie Johannes Faber


André Kertész (American, born Hungary, 1894-1985) 'Still Life with Snake' Negative 1960; print later


André Kertész (American born Hungary, 1894-1985)
Still Life with Snake
Negative 1960; print later
Gelatin silver print
Image: 24.8 × 19.7cm (9 3/4 × 7 3/4 in.)
The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles
© Estate of André Kertész


Malick Sidibé (Malian, 1936-2016) 'Vues de dos' Nd, print 2003


Malick Sidibé (Malian, 1936-2016)
Vues de dos
Nd, print 2003
Gelatin silver print, glass, paint, cardboard, tape, and string
36.5 x 27cm (14 3/8 x 10 5/8 in.)
The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles
© Estate of Malick Sidibé


Irving Penn (American, 1917-2009) 'Red Apples' July 15, 1985


Irving Penn (American, 1917-2009)
Red Apples
July 15, 1985
Silver-dye bleach print
25.4 × 20.3cm (10 × 8 in.)
The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, Gift of Nancy and Bruce Berman
© 1985 Irving Penn


Lyle Ashton Harris (American, b. 1965) 'Man and Woman #1' 1987-1988


Lyle Ashton Harris (American, b. 1965)
Man and Woman #1
Gelatin silver print
74.3 x 48.9cm (29 1/4 x 19 1/4 in.)
The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles
© Lyle Ashton Harris


Jim Dow (American, b. 1942) 'Doll Repair Shop Window, Buenos Aires, Argentina' 1990


Jim Dow (American, b. 1942)
Doll Repair Shop Window, Buenos Aires, Argentina
Chromogenic print
51.2 × 40.6cm (20 3/16 × 16 in.)
The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, Gift of Nancy and Bruce Berman
© Jim Dow


Carrie Mae Weems (American, b. 1953) 'See No Evil' 1991


Carrie Mae Weems (American, b. 1953)
See No Evil
Dye diffusion print (Polaroid Polacolor)
61 × 50.5cm (24 × 19 7/8 in.)
The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, Gift of Daniel Greenberg and Susan Steinhauser
© Carrie Mae Weems


Myoung Ho Lee (South Korean, b. 1975) '[Tree #2]' 2006


Myoung Ho Lee (South Korean, b. 1975)
[Tree #2]
Inkjet print
39.8 × 32.1cm (15 11/16 × 12 5/8 in.)
The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, Purchased with funds provided by the Photographs Council
© Myoung Ho Lee, Courtesy Yossi Milo Gallery, New York


Daniel Naudé (South African, born 1984) 'Africanis 18. Murraysburg, Western Cape, 10 May 2010' 2010


Daniel Naudé (South African, b. 1984)
Africanis 18. Murraysburg, Western Cape, 10 May 2010
60 x 60cm (23 5/8 x 23 5/8 in.)
The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles
© Daniel Naudé


Pieter Hugo (South African, born 1976) 'Aissah Salifu, Agbogbloshie Market, Accra, Ghana' 2010


Pieter Hugo (South African, b. 1976)
Aissah Salifu, Agbogbloshie Market, Accra, Ghana
From the Permanent Error series
Digital chromogenic print
81.3 x 81.3cm (32 x 32 in.)
The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles
© Pieter Hugo


Mona Kuhn (German, born Brazil, 1969) 'Portrait 37' 2011


Mona Kuhn (German born Brazil, 1969)
Portrait 37
Chromogenic print
38.3 x 38.1cm (15 1/16 x 15 in.)
The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles
© Mona Kuhn


Alison Rossiter (American, b. 1953) 'Eastman Kodak Azo E, expired May 1927, processed 2014' 2014


Alison Rossiter (American, b. 1953)
Eastman Kodak Azo E, expired May 1927, processed 2014
Gelatin silver print
25 x 20cm (9 13/16 x 7 7/8 in.)
The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles
© Alison Rossiter



The J. Paul Getty Museum
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Los Angeles, California 90049

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Exhibition: ‘Cosa Mentale: Art and Telepathy in the 20th century’ at the Centre Pompidou-Metz, Paris

Exhibition dates: 28th October 2015 – 28th March 2016


Louis Darget. 'Fluidic Thought-Image Photography' 1896


Louis Darget (French, 1847-1923)
Fluidic Thought-Image Photography

(L) Inscribed: “Photo… of thought. Head obtained by Mr. Henning, having a plate wrapped in black paper on his forehead while he played the piano. Opposite him on the piano was a portrait of Beethoven. Could this be that [same] portrait reflected by the brain onto the plate through the black paper. Comt. Darget”

(R) “Photograph of a Dream: The Eagle.” 25 June, 1896.
Inscribed: “Obtained by placing a photographic plate above the forehead of Mme Darget while she was asleep.”



Telepathic art in the 20th century. What a fascinating subject for a spiritual, phantasmagoric exhibition which explores artists’ fascination with the direct transmission of thought and emotion. A lot of phenomena – for example telepathy, X-rays, psychoanalysis – were named or discovered in the last half of the nineteenth century or are concepts and things that began to gain popularity in the collective consciousness at that time, such as the unconscious mind, the anima and animus, the study of signs, photographs of thought, photographs of hysteria (Charcot) and notes and photographs on unexplained paranormal experiences.

“The exhibition enables the spectator to understand how, throughout the 20th century, attempts to give material and visible form to thought processes coincide with the experiments of avant-garde artists. This fantasy of a direct projection of thought not only had a decisive impact on the birth of abstraction but also influenced surrealism and its obsession with the collective sharing of creation and, in the post war period, it gave rise to numerous visual and sound installations inspired by the revolution in information technology, leading to the declaration of “the dematerialisation of art” in conceptual practices.”

Love the work of Émile Cohl and Len Lye, both a revelation to me.


Many thankx to the Centre Pompidou-Metz for allowing me to publish the photographs in the posting. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image.



Edvard Munch. 'Madonna' 1895


Edvard Munch (Norwegian, 1863-1944)
Paris, Centre Pompidou, Musée national d’Art moderne
© Centre Pompidou, MNAM-CCI, Dist. RMN-Grand Palais / Georges Meguerditchian


Odilon Redon. 'Portrait de Paul Gauguin' 1903-1906


Odilon Redon (French, 1840-1916)
Portrait of Paul Gauguin
Paris, Musée d’Orsay
© RMN-Grand Palais (musée d’Orsay) / Hervé Lewandowski



Émile Cohl (French, 1857-1938)
Le retapeur de cervelles (The creators brain)


Auguste Rodin. 'Le Penseur [The Thinker]' 1903


Auguste Rodin (French, 1840-1917)
Le Penseur [The Thinker]
Plâtre patiné / patinated plaster
72 x 37 x 57.50cm
© Photographe: Christian Baraja
© Musée Rodin, Paris



When conceived in 1880 in its original size (approx. 70cm) as the crowning element of The Gates of Hell, seated on the tympanum, The Thinker was entitled The Poet. He represented Dante, author of the Divine Comedy which had inspired The Gates, leaning forward to observe the circles of Hell, while meditating on his work. The Thinker was therefore initially both a being with a tortured body, almost a damned soul, and a free-thinking man, determined to transcend his suffering through poetry. The pose of this figure owes much to Carpeaux’s Ugolino (1861) and to the seated portrait of Lorenzo de Medici carved by Michelangelo (1526-31).

While remaining in place on the monumental Gates of Hell, The Thinker was exhibited individually in 1888 and thus became an independent work. Enlarged in 1904, its colossal version proved even more popular: this image of a man lost in thought, but whose powerful body suggests a great capacity for action, has became one of the most celebrated sculptures ever known. Numerous casts exist worldwide, including the one now in the gardens of the Musée Rodin, a gift to the City of Paris installed outside the Panthéon in 1906, and another in the gardens of Rodin’s house in Meudon, on the tomb of the sculptor and his wife.

Text from the Rodin Museum website [Online] Cited 22/03/2016. No longer available online


Stephen Haweis and Henry Coles. 'Le Penseur' c. 1903-1904


Stephen Haweis (British, 1878-1969) and Henry Coles
Le Penseur
c. 1903-1904
Epreuve au charbon / Charcoal
23 x 16.60cm
© Musée Rodin, Paris



Cosa Mentale  is a unique exhibition that offers a re-reading of the history or art from 1990 to modern day by exploring artists’ fascination with the direct transmission of thought and emotion. It invites the spectator to re-live one of the unexpected adventures of modernity: telepathic art in the 20th century. This exhibition traces a chronological path from symbolism to conceptual art with a collection of some one hundred works by major artists, ranging from Edvard Munch to Vassily Kandinsky, and from Joan Miró to Sigmar Polke. These artists provide innovative ways of communicating with spectators that take us beyond conventional linguistic codes.

The exhibition enables the spectator to understand how, throughout the 20th century, attempts to give material and visible form to thought processes coincide with the experiments of avant-garde artists. This fantasy of a direct projection of thought not only had a decisive impact on the birth of abstraction but also influenced surrealism and its obsession with the collective sharing of creation and, in the post war period, it gave rise to numerous visual and sound installations inspired by the revolution in information technology, leading to the declaration of “the dematerialisation of art” in conceptual practices.

The exhibition begins with the invention of the term “telepathy” in 1882, at a time when the study of psychology interacted with rapid developments in telecommunications. Endeavours ranged from the creation of “photographs of thought” in 1895 to the first “encephalograms” in 1924 (the year when the Surrealist Manifesto was published) and it was the actual activity of the brain which was to be shown in all its transparency, which encouraged artists to reject the conventions of representation by suppressing all restrictions of translation. Telepathy was far from remaining an obscure paranormal fantasy and consistently intrigued and enthralled artists throughout the 20th century. Always present in the world of science fiction, it resurfaced in psychedelic and conceptual art in the period from 1960 to 1970 before reappearing today in contemporary practices enraptured by technologies of “shared knowledge” and the rapid development of neuroscience.



Pascal Rousseau, professor of contemporary history of art at the University of Paris I Panthéon Sorbonne. Pascal Rousseau has also curated Robert Delaunay exhibitions: From impressionism to abstraction, 1906-1914, at the Centre Pompidou (1999) and To the origins of abstraction (1800-1914) at the Musée d’Orsay (2003).

Press release from the Centre Pompidou-Metz


Joan Miró. 'La Sieste' July-September 1925


Joan Miró (Spanish, 1893-1983)
La Sieste
July – September 1925
© Successió Miró/ ADAGP, Paris, 2015


Vassily Kandinsky. 'Bild mit rotem Fleck [Tableau à la tache rouge / Image with red spot]' 25 February 1914


Vassily Kandinsky (Russian, 1866-1944)
Bild mit rotem Fleck [Tableau à la tache rouge / Image with red spot]
25 February 1914
Paris, Centre Pompidou – Musée national d’art moderne
© Centre Pompidou, MNAM-CCI, Dist. RMN-Grand Palais / Adam Rzepka


Frantisek Kupka. 'Facture robuste' 1920


Frantisek Kupka (Czech, 1871-1957)
Facture robuste
Strasbourg, Musée d’Art moderne et contemporain
© ADAGP, Paris, 2015
© Centre Pompidou, MNAM-CCI, Dist. RMN-Grand Palais / Jacques Faujour



Len Lye (New Zealand/America, 1901-1980)
10 min. 5 sec.



As a student, Lye became convinced that motion could be part of the language of art, leading him to early (and now lost) experiments with kinetic sculpture, as well as a desire to make film. Lye was also one of the first Pākehā artists to appreciate the art of Māori, Australian Aboriginal, Pacific Island and African cultures, and this had great influence on his work. In the early 1920s Lye travelled widely in the South Pacific. He spent extended periods in Australia and Samoa, where he was expelled by the New Zealand colonial administration for living within an indigenous community.

Working his way as a coal trimmer aboard a steam ship, Lye moved to London in 1926. There he joined the Seven and Five Society, exhibited in the 1936 International Surrealist Exhibition and began to make experimental films. Following his first animated film Tusalava, Lye began to make films in association with the British General Post Office, for the GPO Film Unit. He reinvented the technique of drawing directly on film, producing his animation for the 1935 film A Colour Box, an advertisement for “cheaper parcel post”, without using a camera for anything except the title cards at the beginning of the film. It was the first direct film screened to a general audience. It was made by painting vibrant abstract patterns on the film itself, synchronising them to a popular dance tune by Don Baretto and His Cuban Orchestra. A panel of animation experts convened in 2005 by the Annecy film festival put this film among the top ten most significant works in the history of animation (his later film Free Radicals was also in the top 50).

Text from the Wikipedia website


Rudolf Steiner. 'Untitled (drawing on blackboard at a conference of 14 May 1924)' Dornach, 14 May 1924


Rudolf Steiner (Austrian, 1861-1925)
Untitled (drawing on blackboard at a conference of 14 May 1924)
Dornach, 14 May 1924
Chalk on black paper
Rudolf Steiner Archive, Dornach
© Rudolf Steiner Archiv, Dornach
© ADAGP, Paris, 2015



A room of the exhibition features ten blackboards by Rudolf Steiner. They are the instructions of a new design language that the artist wants to develop. Steiner believes in the development of a supersensible consciousness, a big change for the future of humanity. He gives many lectures in which he details his research on the concept of transmission and its influence on the social. Whether true or not, artists such as Piet Mondrian, Wassily Kandinsky and others are interested in the complex graphics of Steiner and his research. Mondrian will even write: “Art is a way of development of mankind.”

Text from the Culture Box website translated from the French


Victor Brauner. 'Signe' 1942-45


Victor Brauner (Romanian, 1903-1966)
© ADAGP, Paris, 2015



Exhibition layout


The exhibition starts with a version of the famous figure of Rodin’s Thinker, set off against a sequence of seven photographs from the start of the century, in which the Pictorialist dimension seems to attempt to show lighting emissions produced by the cerebral concentration of the subject. This collection is presented opposite TV Rodin, a video installation created by the artist Nam June Paik who, in the 1970s, reinterpreted electromagnetic animation of closed-circuit thought, when interest in cybernetics was at its peak.



The direct visualisation of thought and emotional states and the impact of this on the beginnings of abstraction at the start of the 20th century.

The first room focuses on the passion during the century for “photography of thought.” As a direct response to the discovery of radiography by Röntgen, in 1895, numerous amateur researchers attempted to produce images of the brain on photosensitive plates. Since it was possible to see through opaque bodies, why not try to see through the skull, which was now transparent? A curiosity cabinet presents the photographic experiments of Hippolyte Baraduc and Louis Darget with “psychic ones” or “images of thought.” This selection of photographs interacts with two film animation extracts by Émile Cohl, showing, with some humour, the direct projection of thought onto the big screen with the arrival of the cinema.

In the second room, a collection of engravings from the theosophical works of Annie Besant and Charles Leadbeater, presented by the American artist Christian Sampson, reveals the close relationship between the representation of emotional states (thought-patterns) and early abstract painting. They inspired many pioneers of abstract painters, including Kupka and Kandinsky. A group of auras and halos is shown, associated with a colour code for different effects, captured by Kandinsky in order to paint authentic abstract (auto) portraits. In the same vein, paintings by Wilhelm Morgner, Janus de Winter and Jacob Bendien present “psychic portraits” which illustrate a psychological range of emotions by means of chromatic signs.

The third room presents a sequence of ten “blackboards” by Rudolph Steiner, the founder of anthroposophy (the “science of the mind” that was a major influence on some of the members of the avant-garde abstract movement), showing how he developed his theories of the “mental body” and “psychic force”. Next to this is a collection of watercolours by the Swedish painter Hilma af Klint, a pioneer of abstract art. Around this area a multimedia installation by the artist Tony Oursler has been specially created for this exhibition reinterpreting the historical imagination of these “mental projections”.


Magnetic fields

The spread of telepathy in the inter-war period and its influence on surrealism.

In 1924, André Breton published the Surrealist Manifesto (1924) just when the neurologist Hans Berger invented the first electroencephalogram as a result of experimental research into telepathy: this being a less than accidental coincidence, relating to automated transcriptions of the mind. The “exquisite corpses” or “communicated drawings” of the surrealists are linked to experiments that took place at that time into the telepathic transfer of images.

The first room presents a sequence of photographs of the surrealist group in poses in which heads and bodies communicate with each other to produce a collective work under the mysterious influence of “magnetic fields.” Tusalava (1929), a film by the Australian artist Len Lye, illustrates the cinematographic solution found to make mental activity visible, in the form of abstract ideograms taken from aboriginal language.

The second room shows a collection of photographs from the 1920s, some of which are presented by the artist Frédéric Vaesen, relating to the materialisation of psychic entities, the famous “ectoplasms” which give a more tangible reality to imponderable thought. Next to this is a series of works by Joan Miró, in which the painter depicts coloured auras, including a mental map of emotional states, a “photograph of his dreams”.


Mind expander

With the reconstruction of the post war period, divided between the cybernetic model and psychedelic liberation, telepathy remained more than ever a creative horizon for artists in search of perception extended to the electromagnetic manifestations of consciousness.

The New Age spirit of the 1960s witnessed the curious revival of “photographs of thought” (Ted Serios and Salas Portugal), which influenced experimental cinema and psychedelic video (Jordan Belson), a well as some photographic practices (Anna and Bernhard Blume, Dieter Appelt, Suzanne Hiller, John Baldessari and Sigmar Polke).

Under the influence of psychotropic drugs or immersed in highly intense audiovisual devices, electric thought in motion is captured with a penetrating eye. Experimental and radical architectural patterns embody “expanded consciousness”, as is seen in the Mind Expander project (1967) by the Austrian group Haus Rucker Co, which invites the spectator to venture into “superception.” Music has its role here, with the rise in “biomusic” at the end of the 1960s, led by Alvin Lucier, Pierre Henry and David Rosenboom, who produced authentic “brain symphonies,” by means of the sound transcription of the activity of electric waves emitted by the brain, directly captured by electrodes.



The establishment of telepathic art in the 1970s influenced by conceptual practices.

On the margins of pop art, avant-garde artists in the 1970s produced a critique of both form and the art market, by means of strategies that emphasised language and sociological discourse. This also involved a major project in the dematerialisation of art works in which telepathy could be an ideal model for a new non-standard form of communication.

The American artist Robert Morris produced his own Autoportrait in the form of an encephalogram (EEG Portrait) at the same time as his compatriot Robert Barry, a central figure in conceptual art, produced Telepathic Pieces (1969) and Vito Acconci explored extra sensory perception through the form of video (Remote Control, 1971). Against this backdrop, we see considerable new interest in a utopia of shared creation (Robert Filliou and Marina Abramovic) in the era of global communication and the “noosphere” prophetically declared by Teilhard de Chardin and Marshall McLuhan.

The exhibition ends with a vast installation by the artist Fabrice Hyber, a major figure of contemporary art in France, with experimental telepathic booths, paintings, drawings and “prototypes of operating objects” (POF). Hyber invites the spectator to participate, alone or in groups, in an experience which has several surprises, reminding us how, today, under the influence of information networks, neuroscience and the globalised internet, telepathy (ultra democratic and utopian yet also obscure) is more topical than ever and can be explored by artists with the same spirit of derision or anticipation.

Press release from the Centre Pompidou-Metz


Haus-Rucker-Co. Laurids, Zamp and Pinter with 'Environment Transformern (Flyhead, Viewatomizer and Drizzler)' 1968, from the 'Mind Expander project'


Haus-Rucker-Co (Viennese, founded 1967)
Laurids, Zamp and Pinter with Environment Transformern (Flyhead, Viewatomizer and Drizzler)
From the Mind Expander project
Photo: Gert Winkler



Taking their cue from the Situationist’s ideas of play as a means of engaging citizens, Haus-Rucker-Co created performances where viewers became participants and could influence their own environments, becoming more than just passive onlookers. These installations were usually made from pneumatic structures such as Oase No. 7 (1972), which was created for Documenta 5 in Kassel, Germany. An inflatable structure emerged from the façade of an existing building creating a space for relaxation and play, of which contemporary echoes can be found in the ‘urban reserves’ of Santiago Cirugeda. The different versions of the Mind Expander series (1967-69), consisted of various helmets that could alter the perceptions of those wearing them, for example the ‘Fly Head’ disoriented the sight and hearing of the wearer to create an entirely new apprehension of reality; it also produced one of their most memorable images.

Haus-Rucker-Co’s installations served as a critique of the confined spaces of bourgeois life creating temporary, disposable architecture, whilst their prosthetic devices were designed to enhance sensory experience and highlight the taken-for-granted nature of our senses, seen also in the contemporaneous work of the Brazilian artist Lygia Clark. Contemporary versions of such work can be found in the pneumatic structures favoured by Raumlabor and Exyzt.

Anonymous text from the Spatial Agency website [Online] Cited 22/03/2016.


Installation view of Haus-Rucker-Co, 'Mindexpander 1' 1967 in the exhibition 'Cosa mentale' at the Centre Pompidou-Metz


Installation view of Haus-Rucker-Co, Mindexpander 1 1967 in the exhibition Cosa mentale at the Centre Pompidou-Metz.
Photo Pompidou Centre. MNAM CCI-distrib. RMN / G. Meguerditchian.



In 1968, the Austrian collective Haus-Rucker-Co designed the Mind Expander as an immersive capsule propelling the audience into a new mode of perception of reality: the “Superception”. This, then, is a synthesis of avant-garde utopias, throughout the twentieth century, influenced by the imagination that gave rise to the development of telecommunications, seeking to develop a way of live transmission of emotion. Its aim was to invent a new, immediate, relationship between the artist and the viewer.


Haus-Rucker-Co. 'Mind Expander' 1967


Haus-Rucker-Co (Viennese, founded 1967)
Mind Expander
1967 Vienna
Epreuve gélatino-argentique
Photo: Michael Plitz. Haus-Rucker-Co.


David Rosenboom. 'Portable Gold and Philosophers' Stones in Paris 1' 1975


David Rosenboom (American, b. 1947)
Portable Gold and Philosophers’ Stones in Paris 1
© David Rosenboom 1975
All rights reserved



Pianist-composer J.B. Floyd, a long-time collaborator with David Rosenboom is seen with electrodes attached to his head while performing a solo version of Rosenboom’s brainwave music composition Portable Gold and Philosophers’ Stones at Centre Culturel Americain in Paris on 7 January 1975. The equipment shown includes a brainwave monitoring device and an ARP 2600 Synthesizer. The performance occurred simultaneously with a lecture given by David Rosenboom in a presentation titled Biofeedback and the Arts. Artist Jacqueline Humbert, who also participated in the performance, is seated off to the right of the picture frame.


Nam June Paik. 'TV Rodin' 1976-1978 (detail)


Nam June Paik (American, 1932-2006)
TV Rodin (detail)
Plaster, video camera, tripod, monitor, pedestal
132 x 110 x 115 cm



Long considered the most important video artist since the advent of the form in the late 1960s, Nam June Paik’s TV Rodin is one of several related works that involve sculpture – in this case, a cast of Auguste Rodin’s Thinker, studying itself in a small video monitor via closed circuit television. As museum visitors walk around the work and look over the sculpture’s shoulder, their image also appears on the screen. Paik’s influential vision of television as a global cultural force found intelligent and witty form in his videotapes, video sculptures, and intercontinental satellite performances.

Text from the Carnegie Museum of Art website [Online] Cited 22/03/2016.


Nam June Paik. 'TV Rodin' 1976-1978


Nam June Paik (American, 1932-2006)
TV Rodin
Plaster, video camera, tripod, monitor, pedestal
132 x 110 x 115cm
Photo: Primae / Claude Germain. The Estate of Nam June Paik


Marina Abramovic and Ulay. 'That Self - Point of Contact' 1980


Marina Abramovic (Serbian, b. 1946) and Ulay (Frank Uwe Laysiepen) (German, 1943-2020)
That Self – Point of Contact
Performance au De Appel Art Centre, Amsterdam
© Adagp, Paris 2015
Courtesy Marina Abramovic Archives


Sigmar Polke. 'Untitled (Blue)' 1992


Sigmar Polke (German, 1941-2010)
Untitled (Blue)
Set of 10 Cibachromes trials
61 x 51cm
The estate of Sigmar Polke / ADAGP, Paris, 2015


Fabrice Hyber. 'screen+télépathy' 2013


Fabrice Hyber (French, b. 1961)
Watercolour, charcoal on paper
76 x 57cm
Collection of the artist
© Photographie Marc Domage


Susan Hiller. 'Homage to Marcel Duchamp: Aura (Blue Boy)' 2011


Susan Hiller (American, 1940-2019)
Homage to Marcel Duchamp: Aura (Blue Boy)
© Susan Hiller



Centre Pompidou-Metz
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Exhibition: ‘Icons of American Photography: A Century of Photographs from the Cleveland Museum of Art’ at the Frick Art and Historical Center, Pittsburgh

Exhibition dates: 3rd October 2009 – 3rd January 2010

Curator: Tom Hinson, Curator of Photography


Many thankx to the Frick Art and Historical Center for allowing me to publish the photographs in the posting. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image.

Dr Marcus Bunyan



Matthew Brady (American 1823-1896) 'Prosper M. Wetmore' 1857


Matthew Brady (American, 1823-1896)
Prosper M. Wetmore
Salted paper print from wet collodion negative
47 x 39.4cm (18 1/2 x 15 1/2 in.)
CC0 1.0 Universal



A popular author, legislator, and general in the New York State militia, Wetmore, here at age 59, still resembles Edgar Allen Poe’s description of him from a decade earlier: “about five feet eight in height, slender, neat; with an air of military compactness.” Brady’s portrait studio, with branches in New York and Washington, DC, was the most important of its era in America, thanks in part to its success in photographing political, social, and cultural figures. These early celebrity portraits, such as those of the wedding of performer Tom Thumb (seen in the centre of the gallery), could sell thousands of copies. Brady is now best known for images of the Civil War, most taken by photographers he hired.

Text from The Cleveland Museum of Art website


Anne W. Brigman (American, 1869-1950) 'The Hamadryads' c. 1910


Anne W. Brigman (American, 1869-1950)
The Hamadryads
c. 1910
Platinum print


Charles Sheeler (1883-1965) 'Bucks County Barn' 1915


Charles Sheeler (American, 1883-1965)
Bucks County Barn
Gelatin silver print
9 1/4 x 7 5/16″ (23.5 x 18.6cm)


Margaret Bourke-White (American 1904-1971) 'Terminal Tower' 1928


Margaret Bourke-White (American 1904-1971)
Terminal Tower
13 1/4 x 10″ (33.7 x 25.4cm)
Gelatin silver print


Imogene Cunningham. 'Black and White Lilies III' 1928


Imogen Cunningham (American, 1883-1976)
Black and White Lilies III
Gelatin silver print


Alfred Steiglitz. 'Georgia O'Keefe' 1933


Alfred Steiglitz (American, 1864-1946)
Georgia O’Keefe
Gelatin silver photograph


Dorothea Lange (American 1895-1965) 'Resident, Conway, Arkansas' 1938


Dorothea Lange (American, 1895-1965)
Resident, Conway, Arkansas
Gelatin silver print
11 15/16 x 9 1/2 in. (30.32 x 24.13cm)


Laszlo Moholy Nagy. 'Untitled' 1939


Laszlo Moholy-Nagy (Hungarian, 1895-1946)
Gelatin silver print



On October 3, 2009, Icons of American Photography: A Century of Photographs from the Cleveland Museum of Art opens at The Frick Art Museum. This exhibition is composed of fifty-nine photographs from Cleveland’s extraordinary collection that chronicle the evolution of photography in America from a scientific curiosity in the 1850s to one of the most potent forms of artistic expression of the twentieth century.

Icons of American Photography presents some of the best work by masters of the medium, like Mathew Brady, William Henry Jackson, Eadweard Muybridge, Alfred Stieglitz, Edward Steichen, Paul Strand, Edward Weston, Imogen Cunningham, Margaret Bourke-White, Dorothea Lange, Walker Evans, and Robert Frank, encompassing themes of portraiture, the Western landscape, Pictorialism, documentary photography, and abstraction.

The exhibition explores the technical developments of photography, starting with outstanding examples of daguerreotypes – a sheet of copper coated with light sensitive silver. The daguerreotype gave way to salt, albumen, and then gelatin silver prints. Technologies improved to accommodate larger sizes, easy reproduction of multiple prints from a single negative, and commercially available negative film and print papers. As we move into an increasingly digitised twenty-first century, the lure of the photographer’s magic and the mysteries of making photographic images appear on paper is still strong.

Icons of American Photography presents a remarkable chronicle of American life seen through the camera’s lens. The earliest days of photography saw a proliferation of portraiture – intimately personal and honest in composition. A rare multiple-exposure daguerreotype by Albert Southworth (1811-1894) and Josiah Hawes (1808-1901) presents the sitter in variety of poses and expressions, while the formal portrait of Prosper M. Wetmore, 1857, by Civil War-era photographer Mathew Brady (1823-1896) is more typical of early portraiture. The carefully staged daguerreotype, Dead Child on a Sofa, c. 1855, is an outstanding example of the postmortem portrait. The high rate of infant mortality throughout the 1800s made this variety of portraiture common, satisfying the emotional need of the parents to have a lasting memory of their loved one.

Advances in photographic processes allowed for a range of expressive qualities that were exploited by photographers with an artistic flair. In a style known as Pictorialism, works such as Hamadryads, 1910, by Anne Brigman (1869-1950) imitated the subject matter of painting. In Greek mythology a hamadryad is a nymph whose life begins and ends with that of a specific tree. In this work, two nudes representing wood nymphs were carefully placed among the flowing forms of an isolated tree in the High Sierra. The platinum print method used by Brigman allowed for a detailed, yet warm and evocative result. Edward Steichen’s Rodin the Thinker, 1902 (see below), was created from two different negatives printed together using the carbon print process. This non-silver process provided a continuous and delicate tonal range. For even greater richness, these prints were often toned, producing dense, glossy areas in either black or warm brown.

During the late nineteenth century, the U.S. Congress commissioned photographers to document the American West. Photographs by Timothy O’Sullivan (1840-1882) and William Henry Jackson (1843-1942) are the most celebrated from among this era. The exhibition includes O’Sullivan’s East Humbolt Mountains, Utah, 1868 (see below), and Jackson’s Mystic Lake, M.T., 1872 (see below), as well as Bridal Veil, Yosemite, c. 1866 (see below), by Carleton Watkins (1829-1916). Photographers carried large-format cameras with heavy glass negatives to precarious vantage points to create their sharply focused and detailed views. Decades later, Ansel Adams (1902-1984) carried on the intrepid tradition when he swerved to the side of the road and hauled his view camera to the roof of his car to make the famous image Moonrise, Hernandez, New Mexico, 1941.

Responding to the rapid growth of the twentieth century, many photographers shifted their attention from depictions of the natural world to the urban landscape. The power, energy, and romance of the city inspired varied approaches, from sweeping vistas to tight, close-up details and unusual camera angles. Margaret Bourke-White (1904-1971) established her reputation during the late 1920s by photographing industrial subjects in Cleveland. Her Terminal Tower, 1928, documents what was then the second tallest building in America. Berenice Abbot’s (1898-1991) New York, 1936 (see below), is one of many depictions of this vibrant metropolis. The human life of the city intrigued many photographers, including Helen Levitt (1913-2009) whose photographs of children are direct, unsentimental and artful; Weegee [Arthur Fellig] (1899-1968) who unflinchingly documented crime and accident scenes; and Gordon Parks (1912-2006) who chronicled the life of African Americans.

Exploiting the new medium, numerous photography projects were instituted as part of FDR’s New Deal. The most legendary was that of the Farm Security Administration (FSA) run by Roy Stryker, who hired such important photographers such as Walker Evans, Dorothea Lange, and Arthur Rothstein. One of the most iconic images of the New Deal was Dust Storm, Cimarron County, 1936 (see below), by Arthur Rothstein (1915-1985). In the spring of 1936, Rothstein made hundreds of photographs in Cimarron County in the Oklahoma panhandle, one of the worst wind-eroded areas in the United States. Out of that body of work came this gripping, unforgettable image. Dorothea Lange’s (1895-1965) work chronicled the human toll wrought by hardship in Resident, Conway, Arkansas, 1938.

As an art form, photography kept in step with formalist modern styles and an increasing trend toward abstraction. Known for his precisionist paintings, Charles Sheeler’s (1883-1965) Bucks County Barn, 1915, features a geometric composition, sharp focus, and subtle tonal range. In Black and White Lilies III, c. 1928 (see above), Imogen Cunningham (1883-1976) combined the clarity and directness of Modernism with her long-held interest in botanical imagery. For two decades she created a remarkable group of close-up studies of plants and flowers that identified her as one of the most sophisticated and experimental photographers working in America.

Photographers such as Edward Weston (1886-1958) and Paul Strand (1890-1976) employed a straight-on clarity that highlighted the abstract design of everyday objects and the world around us. A completely abstract work by artist László Moholy-Nagy (1894-1946), Untitled, 1939 (see above), is a photogram made by laying objects onto light-sensitive photographic paper and exposing it to light. The objects partially block the light to create an abstract design on the paper.

By 1960, photography had attained a prominent place not only among the fine arts, but in popular culture as well, ushering in a new era of image-based communication that has profoundly affected the arts as well as everyday life.

Icons of American Photography: A Century of Photographs from the Cleveland Museum of Art is organised by the Cleveland Museum of Art. The exhibition is curated by Tom Hinson, Curator of Photography.

Press release from the The Frick Art and Historical Center website [Online] Cited 06/12/2009 no longer available online


Unknown photographer (American) 'Dead child on a sofa' c. 1855


Unknown photographer (American)
Dead child on a sofa
c. 1855
Quarter plate daguerreotype with applied colour


Carleton Watkins. 'Yosemite Valley from the Best General View No. 2.' 1866


Carelton Watkins (American, 1829-1916)
Yosemite Valley from the Best General View No. 2
Albumen silver print



Carleton Watkins had the ability to photograph a subject from the viewpoint that allowed the most information to be revealed about its contents. In this image, he captured what he considered the best features of Yosemite Valley: Bridal veil Falls, Cathedral Rock, Half Dome, and El Capitan. By positioning the camera so that the base of the slender tree appears to grow from the bottom edge of the picture, Watkins composed the photograph so that the canyon rim and the open space beyond it seem to intersect. Although he sacrificed the top of the tree, he was able to place the miniaturised Yosemite Falls at the visual centre of the picture. To alleviate the monotony of an empty sky, he added the clouds from a second negative. This image was taken while Watkins was working for the California Geological Survey. His two thousand pounds of equipment for the expedition, which included enough glass for over a hundred negatives, required a train of six mules.

Text from the J. Paul Getty Museum website [Online] Cited 14/05/2019


Carleton Watkins. 'Bridal Veil, Yosemite' 1866


Carelton Watkins (American, 1829-1916)
Bridal Veil, Yosemite
Albumen silver print


Eadweard J. Muybridge. 'Valley of Yosemite, from Rocky Ford' 1872


Eadweard J. Muybridge (American born England, 1830-1904)
Valley of Yosemite, from Rocky Ford
Albumen silver print


Timothy H. O'Sullivan (American, 1840-1882) 'East Humboldt Mountains, Utah' 1868


Timothy H. O’Sullivan (American, 1840-1882)
East Humboldt Mountains, Utah
Albumen print from wet collodion negative
Image: 19.7 x 27cm (7 3/4 x 10 5/8 in.)
The Cleveland Museum of Art
James Parmelee Fund



By nature and by experience gained during the Civil War, O’Sullivan was ideally suited for the physical and creative demands required of the official photographer for the geological exploration of the fortieth parallel, led by the enterprising Yale geologist Clarence King. The goal of the expedition was to survey the geological structure and natural resources of a swath of territory 100 miles wide, from the eastern slopes of the Sierra Nevada Mountains across the Great Basin to the Rocky Mountains. While on the expedition in 1867-1869 and 1872, O’Sullivan simultaneously pursued his own interest in perfecting a balanced, aesthetic style of landscape photography while providing a faithful record of the natural terrain. As typified in this print, he positioned the camera at a distance parallel to the majestic scenery, presenting a shallow, flattened depiction of space. The image describes in sharp detail the sheer beauty and rugged scale of this Western landscape.

Text from The Cleveland Museum of Art website


William Henry Jackson (American, 1843-1942) 'Mystic Lake, M.T.' 1872


William Henry Jackson (American, 1843-1942)
Mystic Lake, M.T.
Albumen print from wet collodion negative
Image: 23.3 x 50.7cm (9 3/16 x 19 15/16 in.)
The Cleveland Museum of Art
John L. Severance Fund



One of the best-known 19th-century landscape photographers of the American West, Jackson took thousands of negatives between 1870 and 1888 while working for the federal government and the railroads. Beginning in 1870, he began an eight-year assignment as official photographer to the U.S. Geological and Geographical Survey of the Territories led by Ferdinand V. Hayden. This beautiful view of Mystic Lake, located at the head of the East Gallatin River, is one of the most picturesque photographs of the mountainous American West. Jackson used for the first time 11-by-14-inch negatives that captured the scene’s rich textures, the brilliant play of light and shade, and the power and romance of this enthralling vista. Jackson described the scenic lake as “well stocked with most excellent trout, it is quite a pleasure-resort, despite the difficulties to encounter in reaching it.”

Text from The Cleveland Museum of Art website


Edward Steichen (American 1879-1973) 'Rodin The Thinker' 1902


Edward Steichen (American, 1879-1973)
Rodin The Thinker
Gum bichromate print



When Edward Steichen arrived in Paris in 1900, Auguste Rodin (1840-1917) was regarded not only as the finest living sculptor but also perhaps as the greatest artist of his time. Steichen visited him in his studio in Meudon in 1901 and Rodin, upon seeing the young photographer’s work, agreed to sit for his portrait. Steichen spent a year studying the sculptor among his works, finally choosing to show Rodin in front of the newly carved white marble of the “Monument to Victor Hugo,” facing the bronze of “The Thinker.” In his autobiography, Steichen describes the studio as being so crowded with marble blocks and works in clay, plaster, and bronze that he could not fit them together with the sculptor into a single negative. He therefore made two exposures, one of Rodin and the “Monument to Victor Hugo,” and another of “The Thinker.” Steichen first printed each image separately and, having mastered the difficulties of combining the two negatives, joined them later into a single picture, printing the negative showing Rodin in reverse.

“Rodin – The Thinker” is a remarkable demonstration of Steichen’s control of the gum bichromate process and the painterly effects it encouraged. It is also the most ambitious effort of any Pictorialist to emulate art in the grand tradition. The photograph portrays the sculptor in symbiotic relation to his work.

Suppressing the texture of the marble and bronze and thus emphasiSing the presence of the sculptures as living entities, Steichen was able to assimilate the artist into the heroic world of his creations. Posed in relief against his work, Rodin seems to contemplate in “The Thinker” his own alter ego, while the luminous figure of Victor Hugo suggests poetic inspiration as the source of his creativity. Recalling his response to a reproduction of Rodin’s “Balzac” in a Milwaukee newspaper, Steichen noted: “It was not just a statue of a man; it was the very embodiment of a tribute to genius.” Filled with enthusiasm and youthful self-confidence, Steichen wanted in this photograph to pay similar tribute to Rodin’s genius.

Text from the Metropolitan Museum of Art website [Online] Cited 14/05/2019


Arthur Rothstein (American 1915-1985) 'Dust Storm, Cimarron County' 1936


Arthur Rothstein (American, 1915-1985)
Dust Storm, Cimarron County
Gelatin silver photograph
40.4 × 39.6cm


Berenice Abbott (American, 1898-1991) 'Columbus Circle' 1936


Berenice Abbott (American, 1898-1991)
Columbus Circle
Gelatin silver print
Image: 24.6 x 19.6cm (9 11/16 x 7 11/16 in.)
The Cleveland Museum of Art
Sundry Purchase Fund



A native of Springfield, Ohio, Abbott studied art and photography in Paris. Arriving in New York in 1929, she was shocked by the past decade’s vertical building boom, and dedicated herself to documenting the city’s new structures and fast-disappearing historic ones. She made this image from the ninth floor of the General Motors building in New York while working for the Federal Art Project, a governmental agency that employed artists during the Depression. The statue of Columbus, at centre, is dwarfed by two advertising signs: one for Schenley rye whiskey and a landmark 80-x-50-foot display for Coca-Cola that required 3,000 incandescent bulbs.

Text from The Cleveland Museum of Art website



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Dr Marcus Bunyan

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

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

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