Jan Groover. Untitled. 1983. Gelatin silver print, 10 3/16 × 13 1/2″ (25.9 × 34.3 cm). The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Promised gift of Robert B. Menschel. © 2016 Jan Groover

The Shape of Things: Photographs from Robert B. Menschel presents an engaging survey of The Museum of Modern Art’s multifaceted collection of photography. Borrowing its title from the eponymous work by Carrie Mae Weems, the exhibition is drawn entirely from works acquired over the past 40 years with the support of Robert B. Menschel, telling the story of photography from its beginnings.

Covering more than 150 years of photography—from an 1843 view of Paris by William Henry Fox Talbot, the English father of photography, to An-My Lê's depictions of US military exercises in preparation for war in Iraq and Afghanistan—the exhibition underscores an equal attention to the past and the present, and a strong belief that they complement each other; and that each generation reinvents photography. Since Menschel joined the Committee on Photography at MoMA in 1977, over 500 works have entered the collection through his support, including 162 photographs he recently donated from his personal collection.

Organized by Quentin Bajac, The Joel and Anne Ehrenkranz Chief Curator, with Katerina Stathopoulou, Curatorial Assistant, Department of Photography.

The exhibition is supported by the Annual Exhibition Fund.

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