19th Century Photographs at Alan Klotz Gallery in NYC 7/7-8/20/2010
I recently had a chance to see the current show at Alan Klotz Gallery in New York City entitledÂ Another Time,Â Another Place: Aspects of 19th Century Photography. Apart from the times I’ve attended the AIPAD show in New York (my review of the AIPAD 2008 show can be seen here), and possibly a few shows at museums like MoMA in New York and The Getty Museum in Los Angeles, I have never seen such a large collection of 19th Century prints in one exhibition.
photo copyright Andrew Darlow
There is a very wide range of subject matter from a long list of photographers,Â including: W.H. Talbot, Roger Fenton, Adolphe Braun, Charles Negre, Charles Marville, Thomas Annan, Maxime DuCamp, Matthew Brady, Alexander Gardner, TH O’Sullivan, William Bell, A.J. Russell, Carleton Watkins, Eadweard Muybridge, P.H. Emerson, Victor Prevost, Samuel Bourne, Felice Beato, Francis Frith, Napoleon Sarony, others, and “anonymous.”
I’d also like to share an overview from the exhibition announcement text:
In this era of the hot and the now, we find value in studying the roots of all that we have in photography today, by examining the first 60 years of the medium’s existence. There we find the sources for the character and the syntax of the photographic image as we have come to know it. Â At first it was Â all so simple and direct… people, places and history, recorded through the agency of the camera and the processes and technical advancements, which allowed us to see them in the first place. After all, what can’t be done can’t be shown. All the while the very nature (and limitations) of these processes and techniques determined the quality and character of those visions.
Everything seemed to parade before the camera, while the photographers generated and evolved personal style and vision to embellish and enrich their ever-unrolling catalogue of the entire obvious universe…which, in the early days of the medium, is just what they seemed to be doing. In so doing they recorded the obvious of the “near”: births, lives and deaths; the exoticism of the “far”: the wonders from the antipodes of empires. Â Then there were the hard and impossible to see worlds of the microscope and the telescope; and the never-were ectoplasmic manifestations of the spirit world. Everything that was unknown suddenly became known, and the wild became domesticated and tamed under photography’s unblinking and withering gaze. Â It was no longer necessary to imagine Blake’s “Tyger”…you could see a picture of him!
Although mostly direct records of simple things, not all 19th century vision was naÃ¯ve. There were photographers who were quite sophisticated and image-savvy. Gustav LeGray and William Henry Jackson, for example were trained painters, and that training shows in their work. Â Others lacking technical artistic skills had plenty of paintings to emulate. But the freshest of the group of early practitioners were carried along by the native characteristics of the photographic medium itself. It’s optical peculiarities, the issue of how time gets rendered, the role accident and imperfect composition plays in the finished framing of the image, all were unique to photography, and provided revelations by the thousands, and gave artists a new outlook on picture-making.. Everything changed, to the point where painters like Degas were questioning what they were doing based on what they saw in photographs.
Photography, the picture medium born of the industrial revolution, was revolutionizing the way we saw the world and made copies of it for our own studies and for the transmittal to others, down the street, or down the years. Â Photography was somewhat like painting, but radically different all at the same time. The similarities made for recognition…but the differences were remarkable and significant. Picture-making had changed forever, and it is in its earliest days (1840-1900) that we see photography beginning to announce and articulate the terms of that shift.
photo copyright Andrew Darlow
Another Time, Another Place: Aspects of 19th Century Photography
July 7th – August 20th, 2010
Special Summer Hours:Â Wednesday – Friday,Â Noon- 6 pm or by appointment
511 West 25th Street, #701
New York, NY 10001
For more information, visit: www.klotzgallery.com