Published: August 28, 2001
FORT WORTH, TEX. – The Amon Carter Museum has acquired several important photographs that add depth and continuity to what is already a major collection of American photography. Two whole-plate daguerreotypes by Albert Sands Southworth (1811 – 1894) and Josiah Johnson Hawes (1808-1901), 10 photographs by Alfred Stieglitz (1864-1946) and 95 photographs by Robert Adams born 1937) constitute important groups of rare photographic works that contribute significantly to the museum’s holdings of nearly 230,000 photographic objects.
Although closed for expansion since August 1999, the Carter during this time added significantly to all areas of its collection, including paintings, sculpture and works on paper. A selection of these photography acquisitions, as well as many other new works, will be on view at the Carter when it reopens on Sunday, October 21, following its two-year, $39 million expansion. The new building will have three times the exhibition space as before, including almost 4,000 square feet in photography galleries.
The Carter’s photography collection blends historical and artistic masterpieces with key artist archives. Today, the museum owns a remarkable array of photographic works that range from one of the earliest photographs made in the United States to digitally rendered prints created this past year. Through the careful acquisition of individual masterpieces and collections by photographers as diverse as Karl Struss (1886-1981) and Eliot Porter (1901-1990), the museum can now chart the history of photography in the United States from 1840 to the present day with the best of the medium.
Southworth and Hawes acquisitions (two whole-plate daguerreotypes include “Two Women Posed with a Chair,” circa 1850 and “Edward Hawes, Asleep, With One Arm Raised,” circa 1850.
Alfred Stieglitz acquisitions include “Music: A Sequence of Ten Cloud Photographs, No. 1,” palladium print, 1922; “From the Shelton, Looking West” (Radio City), gelatin silver print, 1935 “Katharine N. Rhoades,” platinum print, 1915; “Katharine N. Rhoades,” palladium print, 1915, printed early 1920s;
“Equivalent,” gelatin silver print, 1923, printed 1926; “Equivalent,” gelatin silver print, 1929; “Equivalent,” gelatin silver print, 1920s; “Equivalent” gelatin silver print, 1920s; “Charles Demuth,” gelatin silver print, 1923; and “Poplar Trees, Lake George,” gelatin silver print, 1932.
These acquisitions are outstanding prints of important Stieglitz photographs, many of which the artist originally gave to his wife, Georgia O’Keeffe. They enhance the Carter’s already impressive holdings of modernist paintings and photographs by Stieglitz Circle artists, including O’Keeffe, Marsden Hartley, Arthur Dove, John Marin, Charles Demuth, Edward Steichen and Paul Strand.
Over the past two years, the Carter has acquired a number of photographs by the influential contemporary artist Robert Adams, who has been creating striking images of the West for more than 30 years. By focusing on the commonplace, rather than the unusual or grand, and looking at the settled landscape as often as open spaces, he has challenged us to take a fresh look at our surroundings.
“Community Methodist Church, Bowen, 1908” (circa 1954) comes from one of Adams’ earliest projects. He initially sought to draw artistic attention to the fast disappearing remnants of Colorado’s early communities. Over five years he crisscrossed his home state to produce photographs that would eventually become his book “White Churches of the Plains (1970). He found this well-cared-for church situated behind a grove of poplar and cottonwood trees.
“Colorado Springs, Colorado” (1968, printed 1995) reflects Adams’s late – 1960s decision to heed famed photographer Dorothea Lange’s call to document contemporary American culture with an ethical purpose. Disturbed by the rapid development overtaking his home state, he began to photograph the myriad new highways, malls and tract houses that were being built along Colorado’s Front Range.
Adams’s works will be featured in one of the Carter’s reopening photography exhibitions, entitled “Robert Adams: True West.” This 50-print exhibition, drawn from the museum’s collection, surveys the artist’s 30-year career. Starting with his attentive depictions of the Hispanic architecture of southern Colorado and old church buildings scattered across the plains, the show shifts to the photographer’s challenging views of contemporary urban growth and culminates with his striking visions of the open land. Seen together, these works follow the photographer’s ongoing exploration of what it means to live in today’s West.
Through the generosity of Amon G. Carter (1879 – 1955), the museum opened in 1961 to house his collection of approximately 400 paintings and sculptures by Frederic Remington and Charles M. Russell. The collection has since grown to almost 250,000 works of American art, including masterpieces in painting, sculpture, photography and works on paper by leading artists of the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries. The photography collection alone is one of the largest and most significant in the country. As a whole, the Carter’s collection presents a vivid panorama of American art and culture from 1825 to 1950.
The museum’s new building will have three times the exhibition space as before, allowing four times the amount of artworks to be on view. The trademark façade and 19,000 square feet of architect Philip Johnson’s original 1961 structure remain intact, while additions from 1964 and 1975 have been replaced with the new construction.
The 95-year-old Johnson and his firm, Philip Johnson/Alan Ritchie Architects, designed the Carter expansion, resulting in what Johnson has called “by far the best building plan we have ever done.” Thus, the architecture of the museum, both old and new, spans the career of one of the world’s most distinguished architects.
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