Curated by John Bowlt and Graham Howe
Emil Otto Hoppé and the Ballets Russes pays homage to the genius of two men: Sergei Diaghilev who, more than a century ago, founded the Ballets Russes, and Emil Otto Hoppé, who, between 1911 and 1921, photographed the champions of that illustrious company. With both studio portraits and ballet sequences, this visual chronicle presents not only the leading stars of the Ballets Russes such as Vaslav Nijinsky, Adolph Bolm, Michel and Vera Fokine and Tamara Karsavina, but also celebrities whose connection with Diaghilev was tangential rather than axial – such as Mathilde Kschessinska, Anna Pavlova and Hubert Stowitts.
Curated by Linda Benedict-Jones
Duane Michals: The Portraitist presents the first comprehensive overview of inventive photographic portraits by one of the medium’s most influential artists. Best known as a pioneer who broke away from established traditions of documentary photography in the 1960s, Michals is widely recognized for his ability to navigate between imposing his style and allowing his sitters to express themselves, and for the sequences he assembles to convey personal visual narratives, often adding handwritten messages and poems on the photographic print surface.
Curated by Sara Terry and Teun van der Heijden
The end of war does not mean peace. It is simply the end of war, the end of death and destruction. Every story of war includes a chapter that almost always goes untold – the story of the aftermath, which day by day becomes the prologue of the future.
–Sara Terry (Founder of The Aftermath Project, Guggenheim Fellow)
Aftermath: War is Only Half the Story is a ten-year retrospective of the work of the groundbreaking documentary photography program, The Aftermath Project. Founded to help change the way the media covers conflict – and to educate the public about the true cost of war and the real price of peace – The Aftermath Project has discovered some of the most groundbreaking photographers in the world working on post-conflict themes.
Over the course of his fifty-year career American photographer Edward Weston (1886 – 1958) blazed a path into Photo-Modernism rendering portraits, landscapes, still-lifes, and nudes. In 1902 a sixteen-year-old Weston took up photography in Highland Park, Illinois, where he worked as an amateur for five years. In 1907, at the age of twenty-one, Weston moved to Tropico, California, now the city of Glendale in Los Angeles County, where he constructed his first studio and set about with great purpose to become a photographic artist. Examining Weston’s earliest sharp- and soft-focus photographs reveals that the young artist had already formed a perfect sense of composition that was to be the hallmark of his later work.
Presenting Weston’s earliest work from a recently discovered family album, Edward Weston: Portrait of the Young Man as an Artist compares the artist’s naïve first artistic efforts with his later masterworks to show the persistence and evolution of his singular vision to find essential form in the vernacular with an ever-increasing intensity.
Curated by Barbara Johns, Ph.D.
Witness to Wartime: The Painted Diary of Takuichi Fujii introduces an artist whose work opens a window to historical events, issues, and ideas far greater than the individual. Takuichi Fujii (1891 - 1964) bore witness to his life in America and, most especially, to his experience during World War II. Fujii left a remarkably comprehensive visual record of this important time in American history, and offers a unique perspective on his generation. This stunning body of work sheds light on events that most Americans did not experience, but whose lessons remain salient today.
“In these extraordinary photographs [the Vent Haven Dummies] appear to us as entertainers who have been brought out of retirement for one last show. We imagine their pride and elation as they face a new audience.” –Hunter Drohojowska-Philp, from the essay “Dummies’ Dreams Fulfilled”
This exhibition of photographs is a typological study of vintage ventriloquist dummies dating from 1820 to 1980, housed at the Vent Haven Museum in Fort Mitchell, Kentucky. Matthew Rolston’s portraits of these dolls are at once familiar, peculiar and uncanny, as he represents surrogates as both dignified and playful performers.
Curated by Urs Stahel
Founder and former Director of Fotomuseum Winterthur, Switzerland
In the twenties and thirties, German-born, British photographer E.O. Hoppé set out to depict the romance of global industrial might. Travelling throughout Germany, Britain, the United States, India, and Australia, among other countries, he photographed the brave new technological landscape of industry, seeing its gargantuan machines as both technology and art. This exhibition presents for the first time Hoppé’s iconic industrial images of the modern era, a subject he approached with formal idealism only to discover a darker landscape within: the preparation of machines and weapons that were part of the technology used in the Second World War.
Curated by Richard Rinehart
Director of the Samek Art Museum at Bucknell University
Dusk to Dusk: Unsettled, Unraveled, Unreal turns a mirror to the world, examining individual isolation, political repression, and collective ennui in the decline of the industrial age, an age in which people are simultaneously singular and collective beings. Some seek a return to the land, others seek spiritual transcendence, and others share an affection for our new hybrid of increasingly alienated selves. Through painting, photography, sculpture, and video this exhibition explores a contemporary familiarity with collective darkness.
Curated by Douglas McCulloh
Sight Unseen presents work by the world’s most accomplished blind photographers as they explore ideas about the nature of seeing.
Great art, it has been said, is not a product of the eyes, but of the mind. Beethoven composed music without the ability to hear, and blind writers Milton and Homer conjured the landscapes of the heavens and the underworld. Similarly, the artists of Sight Unseen, in bringing their inner visions into the world of the sighted, reveal a rich visual and emotionally complex blending of the physical and conceptual worlds.
The artists represented span a wide spectrum of sight impairment: most are completely blind, some are legally blind but nevertheless perceive an attenuated image of the physical world in varying degrees. All of them, with photography as their medium, navigate with their other senses to visualize and represent the space around them.
In this revealing series of photographs, James Mollison invites us into the diverse stories of children in many different countries and circumstances. Each studio-style portrait is accompanied by a detailed study of the child's "bedroom," which can range from elaborate sanctuaries to the barest spaces set aside for sleep.
The photographs and their related didactic materials convey the story of a universal childhood, full of insecurity, hope, pain, comfort, and doubt. Economic inequality, children’s rights, and how we are defined by our possessions and formed by our circumstances are some of the complex social, typological, and cultural issues that resonate in Mollison’s work.
Curated by Deborah Willis, Ph.D.
Posing Beauty in African American Culture explores the contested ways in which African and African American beauty have been represented in historical and contemporary contexts through a diverse range of media including photography, film, video, fashion, advertising, and other forms of popular culture such as music and the Internet. Throughout the Western history of art and image-making, the relationship between beauty and art has become increasingly complex within contemporary art and popular culture.
Posing Beauty in African American Culture challenges contemporary understandings of beauty by framing notions of aesthetics, race, class, and gender within art, popular culture, and politics.
Celebrating the Negative is a study of the original film on which famous images have been captured by some of the most important photographers from the 19th and 20th centuries. Loengard’s pictures are of the photographers’ famous images as negatives—not prints. Through the loving observation of the original matrixes of some of the most iconic images, Loengard demonstrates to us that the photographic negative is an object of great beauty.
I photographed the negatives in this exhibition as quickly and simply as possible. I used a small camera on a tripod. Any light box, window or even a sunny wall would do as a background. I wanted to catch the moment when the negative first came out of its envelope and was shown with pride. How people touched the negative played subtly against the image on the film itself. At least, I felt this was so. I’m surprised by the widespread disinterest in the negative, because when exposed, it is the plan for what the print will show. —John Loengard, 2008
Considered one of the most original image makers of the twenty-first century, American-born photographer Roger Ballen has lived and worked in South Africa for four decades. His newest work, Asylum of the Birds, is set within the confines of a makeshift house on the outskirts of Johannesburg, a place inhabited by individuals at the absolute margins of society. In this anarchic place, the human and animal inhabitants collaborate as Ballen’s cast in an ongoing series of quasi-directed performances. As we enter Ballen’s layered netherworld the images simultaneously repel and compel our gaze and transport us to an even darker dreamworld, that of the fears within our own imagination.
The omnipresent birds, both alive and dead, signal a foreboding reminiscent of Hitchcock, while simultaneously suggesting hope and freedom. While "asylum" promises insanity, it also suggests refuge and persists in our mind as a metaphor for redemption. Says Ballen of his work, “My purpose in taking photographs over the past forty years has ultimately been about defining myself. It has been fundamentally a psychological and existential journey.”
Curated by William Ewing, former Director of the Musée de l’Elysée, and Phillip Prodger, former Head of Photographs, National Portrait Gallery
As one of America’s earliest masters of color photography, Paul Outerbridge established his reputation by making virtuoso carbro-color prints of nudes and still-lives in the 1930s. As pictures, they are as brilliant and innovative today as when they earned their place as classics in the history of photography.
Curated by Phillip Prodger, former Head of Photographs, National Portrait Gallery
In the 1920s and 30s Emil Otto Hoppé (British, German born, 1878–1972) was one of the most sought-after photographers in the world. He spent the first decade of his career pioneering the art of celebrity portraiture. Breaking with the formal stiffness of the Victorian studio, Hoppé’s early twentieth century portraits depicted writers such as George Bernard Shaw, H.G. Wells, T.S. Eliot, and Ezra Pound, legendary dancers such as Vaslav Nijinsky and Margot Fonteyn, and royals of the Edwardian era in a shocking new way: they looked natural.