Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Faking It: Manipulated Photography Before Photoshop

The idea of "photographic truth" has always interested me. I wrote my MFA Thesis (entitled "What's So Documentary About Photography?") on photographers from the 1900s through the 1940s working under the guise of making "truthful documentary images," even though they were able to create images that fit their needs perfectly - whether "truthful" or not. I was wanting to show that photographic images considered to be "truth" need to be questioned... even before Photoshop.

The MET has a new show that is along these lines. It's not exactly what I was writing about, but it deals with old faked imagery:

In the first major exhibition of its kind, New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art has collected some 200 visually captivating photographs taken between the 1840s and 1990s - all of which have been manipulated.

'Faking It: Manipulated Photography Before Photoshop' is devoted to the history of manipulated photography before the digital age and traces the medium’s complex and changing relationship to visual truth.

Here are a few images from the exhibition:


Dream No. 1: 'Electrical Appliances for the Home' by Grete Stern ca. 1950 Gelatin silver print


Man Juggling His Own Head: De Torb├ęchet, Allain & C. ca. 1880 by Saint Thomas D'Aquin Albumen silver print


Lenin and Stalin: Unknown Artist, Russian 1949 Gelatin silver print with applied media


A Powerful Collision: Unknown Artist, German School 1910s Gelatin silver print


Hearst Over The People: 1939 by Barbara Morgan


Room with Eye: 1930 by Maurice Tabard and Roger Parry Gelatin silver print


Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec as Artist and Model: 1892 by Maurice Guibert Gelatin silver print


Fading Away: Henry Peach Robinson 1858 Albumen silver print from glass negatives


Dirigible Docked on Empire State Building: Unknown Artist, American 1930 Gelatin silver print

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