Shows To See; Debating Modern Photography: The Triumph Of Group f/64; September 30-December 5, 2010 – Portland Museum Of Art, Portland, ME

In the 1930s, a small group of California photographers challenged the painterly, soft-focus Pictorialist style of the day. They argued that photography could only advance as an art if its practitioners exploited characteristics inherent to the camera’s mechanical nature. This small association of innovators created Group f/64, named after the camera aperture which produces great depth of field and sharp focus. The exhibition revisits this debate and includes images by photographers in Group f/64 such as Ansel Adams, Edward Weston, Imogen Cunningham, Sonya Noskowiak, and Willard Van Dyke, as well as images by Pictorialists such as Anne Brigman, William Dassonville, Johan Hagemeyer, William Mortensen, and Karl Struss.

Edward Weston
(United States, 1886 - 1958)
Shell, 1927
gelatin silver print, 91⁄2x73⁄8 inches
Center for Creative Photography, University of Arizona: Johan Hagemeyer Collection/Purchase

With more than 100 works by 16 artists, Debating Modern Photography offers a feast for the eyes while illustrating both sides of a high-stakes debate. Outstanding examples of the clean edges and bold forms of Group f/64 stand in sharp contrast to the romantic, hand-crafted Pictorialist work that includes elegant portraits, tonalist landscapes, and allegorical studies.

William Mortensen
(United States, 1897 - 1965)
Jascha Heifetz, circa 1932
gelatin silver print, 331⁄4x101⁄2 inches
Center for Creative Photography, University of Arizona: William Mortensen Archive

Alma Lavenson
(United States, 1897 - 1989)
Self-Portrait (Hands), 1932
gelatin silver print, 9x12 inches
Center for Creative Photography, University of Arizona:
Gift of Paul Wahrhaftig

Margrethe Mather
(United States, 1885 - 1952)
Ansel Adams
(United States, 1902 - 1984)
Judith, 1920
platinum print, 95⁄16x75⁄16 inches
Center for Creative Photography, University of Arizona: Purchase
Edward Weston, Carmel, 1945
gelatin silver print, 9x7 inches
Center for Creative Photography, University of Arizona: Ansel Adams Archive
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