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Indepth Arts News:

"Capturing Light: Masterpieces of California Photography, 1850-2000"
2001-03-03 until 2001-05-27
Oakland Museum of California
Oakland, CA, USA

The Oakland Museum of California will present Capturing Light: Masterpieces of California Photography, 1850-2000, a landmark exhibition of 200 images from the museums permanent collection, beginning March 3, 2001. The exhibition will focus on rare, vintage works by approximately 100 noted American photographers working in the state over the past 150 years, including photographs by Carleton Watkins, Eadweard Muybridge, Imogen Cunningham, Edward Weston, Dorothea Lange, Ansel Adams, Wynn Bullock, Robert Frank, Richard Misrach, Carrie Mae Weems, and many others.

Much of what we think of as Great American Photography is in fact Californian, said Drew Heath Johnson, Curator of Photography at OMCA. Names such as Weston, Watkins, Ansel Adams or Dorothea Lange are among the first that occur to us when we consider the history of photography worldwide. California photographers have shown unusual flexibility, exploring new techniques and theories in fresh, innovative ways.

The Capturing Light exhibition will draw from the museum‚s permanent collection of more than a million photographs. One of the most interesting aspects of the collection is its mixture of traditional fine art photography with extraordinary images by photojournalists, commercial photographers, and amateurs. For nearly forty years, the Oakland Museum of California has collected the work of California photographers, both celebrated and obscure, observed Johnson. The result is certainly the most distinguished and extensive collection of photographic imagery relating to California anywhere. Complementing the photographs is a selection of related artifacts and documents from the museums collections - cameras and photographic equipment showing the evolution of imaging technology, early trade and exhibition catalogs, period journals and magazines, advertisements, historical documents, and personal memorabilia.

Becoming a state in 1850, only a decade after the invention of photography, California has attracted and inspired seminal works by some of the best-known photographers in the world. The incomparable natural beauty and cultural liveliness of the state has made it a forefront of American photography, a place that has produced innovative and influential photographs, ranging from early daguerreotypes of the Gold Rush to the digital images of today. The exhibition is organized chronologically in eight major sections: The Pioneers: Landscape and Studio (1850 - 1880); Late Century (1880 - 1906); Pictorialism (1906 - 1935); Modernism and Group f.64 (1925 - 1945); Dorothea Lange and Documentary Photography (1930 - 1945); Postwar (1945 - 1960); Sixties and Seventies (1960 - 1980); and Toward the Millennium (1980 - 2000).

A 380-page catalog that will serve, long-term, as a handbook to OMCAs photography collections accompanies the exhibition. Published by W.W. Norton & Co., New York, the catalog is richly illustrated with 200 color plates. It is the first in-depth examination of the history of photography in California and contains essays by Therese Thau Heyman, former Senior Curator of Photography at OMCA; Peter Palmquist, an independent photography curator; Naomi Rosenblum, Professor of the History of Photography at the Parsons School of Design; Sally Stein, Associate Professor of Art History at the University of California, Irvine; Andy Grundberg, photography critic and curator; and Drew Heath Johnson, Curator of Photography at OMCA. The essays are supplemented with more than 100 artist biographies and notes to the plates.

Edward Weston,
Nude, 1936,
Gelatin silver print,
Gift of the Bell Fund

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