Celebrating the publication and exhibition on the 40th anniversary of Nicholas Nixon’s The Brown Sisters, the Department of Photography wanted to share from its collection a selection of “postcards” by Nixon that the photographer sent to the department’s former director, John Szarkowski. On the back of each of these photographs, one finds letters written by Nixon to Szarkowski. Read more
Posts tagged ‘photography’
It was around the end of April and I was still suffering from the cold of my first winter in New York, when I had the opportunity to choose a professional travel destination as a MoMA intern in the Department of Photography. And what better escape could there be than a photographic journey to California? Read more
Robert Heinecken: Object Matter, the first retrospective since the artist’s death in 2006, contains over 100 photo-based works created by Heinecken between 1962 and 1999. Heinecken was best known for working in the medium of photography and with manipulating images, but surprisingly, he seldom used a camera, Read more
“Coming into Brancusi’s studio was like entering another world.” – Man Ray, 1963This short but evocative quote currently appears high on the wall just inside the entrance to The Edward Steichen Photography Galleries, on MoMA’s third floor. Read more
Maira Kalman—much-beloved artist, illustrator, writer, designer, and New Yorker—has been collecting vintage photographs for 30 years, seeking them out at antique shops, flea markets, and countless other places in the city and during her travels. Read more
This season the MoMA Design Store is pleased to announce the launch of an exclusive new series of artist-produced wares. To celebrate these artistic collaborations we’re going share with Inside/Out readers a behind-the-scenes look at the process of designing these exciting products, and background about the artists involved. Read more
Joel Meyerowitz. Christmas, Kennedy Airport. 1967
Best wishes for the holidays from all of us at The Museum of Modern Art.
Inside/Out will return with a new post on Tuesday, January 31.
“This is real time, it is modern history in the making.”—Sarah Charlesworth on her work, Movie-Television-News-History, June 21, 1979
In 1938, 75 years ago this fall, MoMA installed its first one-person photography show, comprising 100 prints by Walker Evans, with the self-consciously ambiguous title American Photographs. (After all, what exactly makes a photograph American?) Read more
MoMA’s new book Bill Brandt: Shadow and Light by Sarah Hermanson Meister, curator in the Department of Photography at MoMA, is a fresh look at the work of an iconic British photographer. The exhibition currently on view isn’t the first time MoMA has presented Bill Brandt’s work to the public—the last Brandt retrospective was in 1969. Since then, the Museum’s perspective of Brandt’s work has evolved into a more complete consideration of the nuances and variations in Brandt’s own photo-historical approach.
Brandt’s photography is traditionally presented in thematic groupings at the artist’s own request, but this view alone simplifies a body of work that is multifaceted and far-reaching in style, influence, and subject matter. Bill Brandt: Shadow and Light is the most comprehensive overview of Brandt’s work to date, and it attempts to create a coherent trajectory across five decades of his career.
Beyond the 160 tri-tone reproductions of his photographs, the book features a rich appendix that illuminates different aspects of Brandt’s oeuvre. A section on Brandt’s photo-stories from 1939 to 1945 reproduces spreads from the publications in which they originally appeared, and a detailed survey of his methods for retouching his photos is especially fascinating in today’s world of digital cameras, smart phones, and instant photo filters. Brandt often spoke about how important the retouching process was in his work, and by looking at the various tools and techniques he used to edit and perfect his final images, photo conservator Lee Ann Daffner’s illustrated glossary dives deep into Brandt’s working process. As discussed in a prior INSIDE/OUT post, Dating Brandt, the same negative can look completely different depending on when Brandt retouched it.
Though his influences, subject matter, and technical approach shifted over his long career, Brandt never lost what Meister describes as “his obvious delight in the uncanny aspects of the everyday.” Her introductory essay opens with a quote from Brandt on the role of a photographer:
I believe this power of seeing the world as fresh and strange lies hidden in every human being. In most of us it is dormant. Yet it is there, even if it is no more than a vague desire, an unsatisfied appetite that cannot discover its own nourishment….This should be the photographer’s aim, for this is the purpose that pictures fulfill in the world as it is to-day. To meet a need that people cannot or will not meet for themselves. We are most of us too busy, too worried, too intent on proving ourselves right, too obsessed with ideas, to stand and stare.
Bill Brandt took the time to “stand and stare” in many different ways. Whether through juxtapositions of class structure, wondrous nudes, inventive portraiture, or unearthly landscapes, Brandt’s far-reaching inspirations and approaches generated arresting imagery that still holds magic and wonder today.
For more on Brandt’s expansive career, preview a free PDF sample of the exhibition catalogue.