Tag Archives: History of Photography

The kids are alright – students get behind the scenes at the DIA

Oakland Community College students on a visit to the DIA's works on paper study room (c) Rob Kangas 2011

The DIA’s department of prints, drawings and photographs has seen a good amount of activity these past few months with visits from art and art history students who attend Detroit-area colleges and universities. Oakland Community College instructor Rob Kangas recently brought his class to the museum’s works on paper study room to view photographs from the DIA’s collection. Rob has been working with the museum’s photo collection for nearly twenty years to teach his students about the history of photography and give them a rare opportunity to study a variety of photographic media first hand. They can see everything from 19th-century daguerreotypes to traditional black-and-white photographs and more recent digitally output prints. The photograph on the table seen above is by New York street photographer Weegee, but contemporary work was also on view and several students took the time to study an oversize photograph by Andrew Moore as seen below.

Students study an oversize photo in the DIA's works on paper study room (c) Rob Kangas

The experience is always memorable for his students – and for some it is the first time they actually step foot into the DIA!

The First 100 Years of Photography – Exhibition to Open Sept. 2@the DIA

Julia Margaret Cameron, Enid from Idylls of the King, 1874

Julia Margaret Cameron, Enid from Idylls of the King, 1874

On September 2 the DIA opens a new exhibition, Photography – The First 100 Years: A Survey from the DIA’s Collection. Taking a look at the early years of photography and its development as a new art form, the DIA presents a survey of 90 works from its collection. Included are a number of notable rare works from the 19th century as well as iconic imagery from the 1920s and 1930s. Photographs by Julia Margaret Cameron, Edward Weston, Walker Evans, Margaret Bourke White, Dorothea Lange in addition to 50 other pioneers and great innovators of the medium are on view in the exhibition which runs through January 3, 2010.

Unknown Photographer, Soldier and Companion, 1861-65, tintype.

Unknown Photographer, Soldier and Companion, 1861-65, tintype.

One of the highlights from this exhibition is a tintype portrait of an African American couple from the 1860s. The process, a photographic image made on metal, appeared in the 1850s.  The DIA was fortunate enough to acquire it back in 2001, when it went on the auction block with other items from the collection of Jackie Napoleon Wilson, a Detroiter who developed an important and rare collection of 19th-century portraits of African Americans over the years. The exhibition moves onward from the 19th century with sections devoted to the pictorialist, modernist and social documentary eras. Photography – The First 100 Years kicks off a new and exciting season of photography exhibitions this fall 2009 and into spring 2010 at the DIA – here’s the round-up:

Avedon Fashion Photographs 1944-2000– opening October 18, 2009 through January 17, 2010. The DIA will host the first large-scale fashion retrospective since Richard Avedon’s death in 2004. Organized by the International Center for Photography, New York, the exhibition includes 181 images – many are well-known photographs – in addition to magazines and other interesting ephemera that illustrates the long and legendary career of one of America’s most successful and interesting photographers.

Detroit Experiences: Robert Frank Photographs 1955 opening March 3 through July 4, 2010. This exhibition includes over 60 black-and white photographs taken by Robert Frank in Detroit. Made during his travels through the U.S. photographing for his book The Americans, Frank observed Detroiters as they lived and worked at mid century in the U.S. In this rare body of work, many of which will be on view for the first time at the DIA, Frank documented the day-to-day lives of Americans as he tried to mingle with assembly line workers at the Rouge Factory, took in a movie at the Gratiot Drive-In, and experienced public life on Belle Isle and in the streets of Detroit. All were part of the Detroit experience as Frank perceived it over fifty years ago.

Photography@DIA – Future Programs & Exhibitions in 2009

Many thanks to Michelle Stamler for posting recently on her involvement with Roeper High School photo students and the DIA. I am looking forward to their visit later this month at the DIA to view Of Life and Loss and talk about their work inspired by this exhibition. I did not expect such an overwhelming response to this exhibition. There is a constant stream of visitors in our galleries everyday.  And it seems that this very powerful group of photographs speak to a very diverse group of visitors on so many different levels with great emotional impact and resonance. I was fortunate to have exhibition curator Karen Sinsheimer deliver the most-illuminating lecture on Of Life and Loss this past Sunday to over 100 people in the DIA’s lecture hall.

Penny Picture Display, Savannah, 1936, by Walker Evans

Penny Picture Display, Savannah, 1936, by Walker Evans

The DIA is moving forward with our other photo exhibitions and programs for the year. This past week I have been busy working with interpretive educator Madeleine Winslow on an upcoming exhibition Photography-The First 100 Years. Although the exhibition does not open until September 2, 2009, plans for installation and development of interpretative materials for the gallery take place months and sometimes years in advance. Madeleine and I hope to get some feedback from our visitors in the gallery with a reader response table focused on the work of Walker Evans one of the featured artists in the exhibition. We plan to set up some online opportunities to hear your thoughts as well.

Avedon Fashion preThe exhibition Avedon Fashion Photographs 1944-2000 will also open at the DIA on October 18. 2009. I was fortunate to get an advance copy on the catalogue with essays by exhibition curators Carol Squiers and Vince Aletti. The authors have given their undivided and thorough attention to this very productive and influential period of the photographer’s career in fashion editorial work that appeared in Harper’s Bazaar, Vogue  and in later years for the Versace campaign beginning in 1980 and eventually as staff photographer for The New Yorker. The exhibition opened last week at the International Center for Photography, New York, and a sneak peak of some of Avedon’s fashion work can be found at the New Yorker Online – Here at the DIA, the exhibition will get four-star treatment in our special exhibition space with an elegant installation and some exciting programs and events to soon be announced.

Future Photography Exhibitions at the DIA to Focus on the Permanent Collection

 
Migrant Mother, 1936, by Dorothea Lange

Migrant Mother, 1936, by Dorothea Lange

Although the DIA announced last week a 20% reduction in full and part-time staff, I will be staying on in my usual role as associate curator to work out an ongoing schedule of exhibitions in the Albert and Peggy de Salle Gallery of Photography. Over the next two years, the department of prints, drawings and photographs will offer a slightly reduced schedule of six rather than the usual 12 exhibitions from our permanent collection. It’s all part of an effort to scale back operations a bit, but still provide a meaningful museum experience for our visitors.
 
Of these six exhibitions,  three  photography exhibitions are in development,  the first which will open this September with works surveying the  first 100 years of photography. Rare 19th-century prints, pictorialist and modernist works, along with a section devoted to the documentary tradition, will feature many classic images from the history of photography and individuals including Alfred Steiglitz, Dorothea Lange, Walker Evans, Edward Weston, and Julia Margaret Cameron among others. Art may be the best reprieve in tough times like these, so stay tuned for upcoming exhibition dates, programs and maybe even a few surprises.  
Broken Stained Glass Window, Wielkie Oczy, 2001, by Jeffrey Gusky (copyright Jeffrey Gusky)

Broken Stained Glass Window, Wielkie Oczy, 2001, by Jeffrey Gusky (copyright Jeffrey Gusky)

As part of our previously scheduled program of exhibitions, the museum will open Of Life and Loss: The Polish Photographs of  Roman Vishniac and Jeffrey Gusky, which is traveling from the Santa Barbara Museum of Art. It will be on view beginning April 19, 2009. I’ll be posting on this exhibition again in the upcoming weeks.