Looking through the Lens: Photography at the BMA

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Looking through the Lens: Photography 1900-1960
March 16 – June 8, 2008

man ray

Approximately 150 vintage prints by some of the world’s best-known 20th century photographers are featured in this exhibition of iconic images by European and American artists such as Man Ray, Alfred Stieglitz, Edward Weston, Paul Strand, Dorothea Lange, and Gordon Parks. Drawn from the BMA’s outstanding collection, these rarely shown photographs were produced during a pivotal period in the history of the medium—when photography became fully recognized as an art form.

Organized thematically, Looking through the Lens both showcases the work of great artists and illuminates some of the most significant movements and techniques of the first half of the century. Highlights of the exhibition include soft-focus Pictorialist-style photogravures published in Alfred Stieglitz’s ground-breaking journal Camera Work (1903–17), a rare print of Paul Strand’s Bottle, Book, and Orange (1916); and brilliant experimental images produced between the wars such as Max Burchartz’s Lotte’s Eye (c. 1928) and Edward Weston’s Pepper (1929). A large selection of works by Man Ray demonstrates the influence of Surrealism, while Edward Steichen’s dramatic images of movie stars and Paul Outerbridge’s vivid carbro color prints of cropped nudes and festive still lifes show the cross-fertilization between art, film, and advertising.

Compelling documentary photographs and examples of photojournalism from the late 1930s include Dorothea Lange’s images of migrant farmers in California and Aaron Siskind’s Photo League chronicles of Harlem, as well as works commissioned for Life magazine by Margaret Bourke-White and Gordon Parks. Post-war images by New York School photographers Robert Frank and William Klein capture fleeting moments in America—from parade-goers in Hoboken, New Jersey, to a group of teenagers on the run. The exhibition concludes with Harry Callahan and other teachers at the progressive Institute of Design in Chicago whose work extended the influence of European modernism and anticipated some of the new directions photography would take in the second half of the century.

This exhibition is curated by Rena Hoisington, BMA Associate Curator of Prints, Drawings & Photographs.

j.m. giordano “For Sale” – based on the Paul Outerbridge work “Nude with Bust”

Looking Now: BMA Digital Photography Project

The BMA has invited 19 professional photographers to respond to Looking through the Lens with their own work. Selected by artist Peter Bruun, Urbanite creative director Alex Castro, and photographer/BMA Trustee Connie Imboden, the participating artists are: Beth Barbush, Jennifer Bishop, Laura Burns, Marshall Clarke, Cory Donovan, Peggy Fox, J.M. Giordano, Camille Gustus-Quijano, Regina DeLuise, Ellis Marsalis, Dan Meyers, Christopher Myers, Ken Royster, Jacqueline Schlossman, Sofia Silva, Lynn Silverman, Michelle Woodward, Erik Whipple, and Jack Wilgus. Their images will be on view in the Looking Now Digital Gallery at the BMA from March 16–June 8, and also as part of a special feature in the April issue of Baltimore’s Urbanite magazine.

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