NASA Photographs: 1969 – 1972 | Loewy et Puiseux: Photographies Lunaires 1894 – 1904

Untitled, 1969
gelatin silver print

Early French scientific photographs of the moon will be on view with recent lunar photographs made by NASA astronauts at Fraenkel Gallery, 55 Grant Avenue, from December 5, 1979–January 5, 1980.

Loewy and Puiseux, two French astronomers at the Obsevatoire de Paris made telescopic views of the moon during the years 1894–1904. The images were printed with great sensitivity as unusually large photogravures, and information regarding the exact date and hour of exposure was printed beneath each image. Seven of these rare gravures are included in the exhibition.

Photographie Lunaire: Mer du Nectar – Mer de la Fécondité – Posidonius, 1898
heliogravure, 29-1/2 x 22 inches (sheet) [74.9 x 55.9 cm]

Seventy years after Loewy and Puiseux, NASA astronauts also made photographs of the moon. These mostly hand-held Hasselblad pictures, selected from an extensive archive at the Space Imagery Center in Tucson, were made on Apollo missions 11, 12, 14, and 15 during the years 1969–1972. They focus on bits of strange apparatus, plain hunks of rock, and patches of soil, often without horizons. Astronauts’ arms and legs appear as fragments around the edges, while there shadows fall accidentally on the scene.

Like their French predecessors, the NASA astronauts made their photographs purely for scientific purposes. Yet both groups of pictures contain strong similarities to much significant photographic work being made today.

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