El Lissitzky. Self-Portrait. 1924. Gelatin silver print, 3 × 3 3/8″ (7.6 × 8.5 cm). The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Thomas Walther Collection. Purchase. © 2011 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn

This exhibition, covering the period from 1910 to today, offers a critical reassessment of photography’s role in the avant-garde and neo-avant-garde movements—with a special emphasis on the medium’s relation to Dada, Bauhaus, Surrealism, Constructivism, New Objectivity, Conceptual, and Post-Conceptual art—and in the development of contemporary artistic practices.

The shaping of what came to be known as “New Vision” photography bore the obvious influence of “lens-based” and “time-based” works. El Lissitzky best summarized its ethos: “The new world will not need little pictures,” he wrote in The Conquest of Art (1922). “If it needs a mirror, it has the photograph and the cinema.”

Bringing together over 250 works from MoMA’s collection, the exhibition features major projects by Man Ray, László Moholy-Nagy, Aleksandr Rodchenko, Germaine Krull, Gerhard Rühm, Helen Levitt, Daido Moriyama, Robert Heinecken, Ed Ruscha, Martha Rosler, Bernd and Hilla Becher, Philip-Lorca DiCorcia, and Walid Raad, among others. Photographic history is presented as a multivalent history of distinct “new visions,” rooted in unconventional and innovative exercises that range from photograms and photomontages to experimental films and photobooks.

Organized by Roxana Marcoci, Curator, Department of Photography.

Major support for the exhibition is provided by Peter Schub, in honor of Anne and Joel Ehrenkranz.

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