Though it is doubtful that “Art” was the intention of any of the photographers whose pictures are included in this exhibition, there is a quality that emphatically separates each of these photographers from the incalculable number made since the medium’s discovery in 1839. In order to more fully understand the development of creative photography, it is useful to take into account the contribution of anonymous photographers; indeed, vernacular photography has informed the work of many important 20th century photographers, among them Walker Evans, Robert Frank, and Diane Arbus.
Beginning with several daguerreotypes from the 1840s, the exhibition traces a development of photographic processes and aesthetics through the next 140 years. Included are several early albumen prints from Great Britain, France, and China, an interior view of the Emporium department store after the 1906 earthquake, two anonymous images made by Bauhaus photographers in the 1930’s, a picture of “Herschel Bernardi’s brother” at his desk, and a Chinese color film still from the 1950’s among others. Several of the photographs have been loaned from the private collections across the United States. Ultimately, the exhibition provides an opportunity for the serious viewer to reflect on the nature of “the photographic,” and on photography itself.