Published: December 28, 2012
“Treasures Of The Alfred Stieglitz Center: Photographs from the Permanent Collection,” on view in the Honickman and Berman Galleries at the Philadelphia Museum Of Art through April 7, presents a survey of photographs from the permanent collection and includes a group of works by Dorothy Norman and her mentor Alfred Stieglitz, one of the greatest figures in Twentieth Century American art. There are also early masterworks by Gustave Le Gray, whose images of light and motion inspired the Impressionists, Edward Weston, Julia Margaret Cameron and Charles Aubry.
These striking images are complemented by an array of Modern and contemporary works that trace the medium’s history as a visual art form, including recent acquisitions by artists such as Florence Henri, Roy DeCarav and Hiroh Kikai, many on view for the first time in Philadelphia.
The mainly black and white photographs reflect the strengths of the museum’s photography collection, ranging from the 1840s to 2005. Nineteenth Century photographs include works by William Henry Fox Talbot, an early inventor of photography; a group of views from Felice Beato’s1860 album “China”; and “Rue des Prêtres Saint Étienne, de la rue Descartes” by Charles Marville, who documented the narrow quarters of Nineteenth Century Paris.
Post-World War II American and Japanese photography is seen through a number of works by Robert Frank, including “Jehovah’s Witness, Los Angeles,” 1955, Diane Arbus’s untitled (6), 1970‷1, and Masahisa Fukase’s untitled, 1976. The exhibition continues with contemporary photography by a broad range of international artists, including Joachim Koester’s “Room of Nightmares #,” 2005 and Gerhard Richter’s “Guildenstern (Rhombus II),” 1998, a cunning investigation of the shared terrain between painting and photography.
The works by Norman and Stieglitz were made during the years of their creative exchange, from 1929 until Stieglitz’s death in 1946. These include a number of portraits, such as Norman’s cropped closeup “Alfred Stieglitz IX, New York,” 1933; cityscapes and landscapes, as seen in Stieglitz’s “New York from the Shelton,” 1935, showing the interplay of light and shadow on the skyscrapers of a changing New York skyline; and Norman’s “Harbor II, Osterville, Cape Cod,” 1930s, a study in line and composition.
These images are complemented by photographs made by their contemporaries, including Man Ray’s surrealist “Marquise Casati,” 1922, and Florence Henri’s “Portrait,” circa 1930.
The Philadelphia Museum of Art is on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway at 26th Street. For information, 215-763-8100 or www.philamuseum.org .
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