Established as an independent curatorial department in 1992, the Metropolitan Museum's Department of Photographs houses a collection of more than twenty-five thousand works spanning the history of photography from its invention in the 1830s to the present. Among the treasures from the early years of the medium are a rare album of photographs by William Henry Fox Talbot made just months after he presented his invention to the public; a large collection of portrait daguerreotypes by the Boston firm of Southworth and Hawes; landscape photographs of the American West by Timothy O'Sullivan and Carleton Watkins; and fine examples of French photography from the 1850s by Edouard Baldus, Charles Nègre, Gustave Le Gray, Henri Le Secq, Nadar, and others.
Posted: Friday, August 22, 2014
I consider Garry Winogrand's photographs found in the current exhibition of his work to be a collection of perfect mistakes. "Perfect" because, even though the subject is often not posing or even looking straight at the camera, there is something about the picture that makes it incredibly engaging. The very same picture can simultaneously feel like a "mistake," however, since it may capture people who are either unaware they are being photographed or are unhappy about it. In some cases, it feels to me like Winogrand accidentally pressed the shutter button. Normally people have to pose or look at the camera in order for a photograph to be considered successful, but Winogrand instead intended to capture these unguarded people and moments.
Posted: Tuesday, August 19, 2014
Garry Winogrand's street photography, currently on view in an eponymous exhibition at the Museum, is often astonishingly candid and real. But would he have been able to use his distinct style today? The Internet has made it easier than ever to share photos and spread them around. But it's also made people far more self-conscious when being photographed and, dare I say, more frightened of the camera.
Posted: Friday, August 15, 2014
Today, with the special features on DSLRs, you can get a good shot even in difficult lighting environments. You can also use Photoshop and special effects to alter photographs after they've been taken. But imagine a time in which photo editing was not as common and photography was not as easy to do as it is today.
Posted: Friday, August 8, 2014
In the words of Garry Winogrand, subject of the current exhibition bearing his name, "If you didn't take the picture, you weren't there." Today, when most people hear a bizarre story, they want to have some sort of evidence, like a photograph. They want to see whatever happened with their own eyes. Winogrand upends this scenario. Instead, he simply provides the proof, and denies the audience the story behind it.
Posted: Tuesday, August 5, 2014
It's a human tendency to take apart what's put in front of us. But more importantly, we have a selfish desire to connect a piece of artwork to our lives in some way. We may feel almost dead if we are unable to connect the artwork to some greater philosophical idea that we believe to be present. While there is nothing wrong with that process, the artist may not agree with your interpretation, as the work may in fact have no underlying meaning. The artist may have simply created the piece because of its aesthetics.
Posted: Thursday, May 2, 2013
Sometimes, in discrete moments of boredom-induced reflection, I begin to think about why certain things have survived from the past and others haven't. I wonder whether it is through sheer dumb luck that some artworks are preserved while others are lost, and whether the creators of the surviving works had any idea that their work would last for so long and be seen by so many eyes.
Posted: Monday, April 22, 2013
Curator Jeff L. Rosenheim recently spoke to the Teen Advisory Group about the current exhibition Photography and the American Civil War. As part of his talk, he showed us an 1864 photograph of Union soldiers posing on the front steps of Robert E. Lee's Virginia home, which the government had confiscated in 1861.
Posted: Thursday, April 11, 2013
Photographs play an important role in history by documenting moments in time. When people look at historical photographs, they are able to peer into worlds they previously could only imagine.
Posted: Friday, December 28, 2012
Posted: Thursday, December 20, 2012
Let's consider these two images aesthetically, as visual matter to be both analytically dissected and emotionally felt.