Frick Art & Historical Center
Through April 19
It’s difficult to imagine a world when photography was rudimentary and rare, since today we are surrounded by visuals—from billboards to Instagram feeds. With cameras just a click away and a constant flood of digital images, it’s fascinating to think about artists working 100 years ago who grappled with the role of photography during an era long before the Polaroid and Snapchat.
Shutterbugs and fans of the medium alike won’t want to miss a new exhibition opening at the Frick Art & Historical Center this weekend. On view through April 19th, Impressionist to Modernist: Masterworks of Early Photography showcases the international development of photography at the turn of the 20th century. Visitors will enjoy 70-plus works by a pioneering group of artists—all working during a pivotal time for the art form’s history and development.
Spanning the 1880s through the 1930s, the exhibition chronicles the progression of photography from the painterly, Impressionistic work of the Pictorialist movement to the 20th-century Modernist aesthetic that called for photographs to serve as a “direct representation of the world, free from artificial manipulation of the image through lenses, tinting or processing.”
Impressionist to Modernist is centered around the highly influential American artist Alfred Stieglitz (1864–1946)—who ushered in a new era of fine art photography, introducing the medium to museums and securing its international reputation. A champion of modern art, Stieglitz was married to the groundbreaking painter Georgia O’Keeffe, who is featured in several photographs on view.
Featured highlights include photographs by major members of Stieglitz’s circle, including Gertrude Käsebier (1852–1934), Clarence White (1871–1925), Edward Steichen (1879–1973) and Paul Strand (1890–1976).
Museum-goers will also see rare, handcrafted and vintage prints—made using a variety of processes—that illustrate the artistic choices available to photographers working at the time.
A variety of styles are on view, including soft-focus Pictorialist works that recall Impressionist paintings and explore allegories, genre scenes and still lifes—as well as iconic 20th-century black-and-white (gelatin silver) prints. The show also traces the generation of photographers who reacted against values of the past, developing new technological advances and modern image-making approaches.
Underscoring some of the exhibition’s themes and reflecting its new policy, The Frick Art Museum is allowing visitors to take non-flash photographs.
Admission is free.