Published: January 28, 2003
Seeing the Unseen:
PRINCETON, N.J – “Seeing the Unseen: Abstract Photography, 1900-1940,” will open February 4 at the Princeton University Art Museum.
“Photography was initially invented, in part, to allow the exact recording of the way the world and its objects appeared to a sharp-sighted observer,” notes Anne McCauley, the David Hunter McAlpin professor of the history of photography and modern art at Princeton University, who organized the exhibition. As painters began to reject Renaissance perspective in favor of alternative aesthetic ideas, fine arts photographers also began to break with convention, making images that were self-consciously flat, allusive, and nonreferential.
Like artists in the radical art movements of Cubism, Futurism, and Constructivism, Twentieth Century photographers experimented with vantage points, framing, and lighting to achieve the fragmentation of Picasso or the complex intersecting planes of Lissitsky. They also applied techniques borrowed from both filmmakers and scientists, including the use of negative prints, cameraless photograms, closeups, lens distortions and montage. The exhibition traces these developments with works by such artists as Berenice Abbott, Karl Blossfeldt, Imogen Cunningham, Gyorgy Kepes, Dora Maar, László Moholy-Nagy, Paul Outerbridge, Alfred Steiglitz, and Edward Weston, as well as with examples of the commercial and advertising photographs found in contemporaneous books and periodicals.
The exhibition is organized in conjunction with Professor McCauley’s course “Masters and Movements of Twentieth-Century Photography,” in which she examines the ways photography has been “transformed from a poor stepchild of the fine arts to a staple of museum exhibitions.”
The museum is located in the middle of the Princeton University campus, next to Prospect House and Gardens. Due to construction, visitors should use the temporary entrance on the west side of the building, cross the green from Dod Hall. For information, 609-258-3788 or www.princetonartmuseum.org
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