Tuesday, February 12, 2008Home

Exhibition Chronicles Turning Point in American Photography

"Debating Modern Photography: The Triumph of Group f/64" is an exhibition honoring both sides of a debate about the direction and state of photography in the 1930s. Running February 16 to May 4, 2008, at the Center for Creative Photography, the exhibition will present works from the members of Group f/64, including Ansel Adams, Imogen Cunningham, Willard Van Dyke, Sonya Noskowiak, Edward Weston, to name a few; and from the practitioners of the pictorial tradition of photography, which was the dominant style at the time that the group was formed. The mechanical nature of Group f64's images, with bold, angular shapes and strong shadows, and the painterly, soft-focus style that came before are presented as 100 works by 16 artists.

Pictorial photographers of the 1930s, like Anne Brigman, William Dassonville, Johan Hagemeyer, William Mortensen, and Karl Struss, represent the lasting tradition, heavily involved in hand-crafting images, dignified portraits, and romantic landscapes. As a result, photographs from the "pictorial" era are closer to individual, painterly visions, both in the method of creation and in the adherence to form and subject matter.

Group f/64 made its first exhibition a reality at de Young Memorial Museum on November 15, 1932, after uniting in San Francisco to celebrate the camera's underappreciated attributes: specifically, the exacting focus and clarity achievable at the aperture setting that made the group's name. Now, this retrospective exhibition comes courtesy of the Center for Creative Photography and the Phoenix Art Museum.

From the Center for Creative Photography:

“Group f/64 photographs include nearly every possible category: industrial, urban and natural landscapes; portraits of friends and fellow group members; isolated objects for sharp-focus still lifes; and details extracted from the visible world. ...To distinguish themselves from the Pictorialists, (Group f/64) wrote, 'Pure photography is defined as possessing no qualities of technic [sic], composition or idea, derivative of any other art-form.'"

Reception speakers include Susan Ehrens, who will examine the photographic legacies of Anne Brigman, Imogen Cunningham, and Alma Lavenson; and Joan Fontcuberta will "discuss the tension between truth and beauty that has propelled photography's evolution since its origin." The reception takes place March 28, 2008, at the Center for Creative Photography Gallery at the University of Arizona.

Click here for details.

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