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"Seeing Things: Photographing Objects 1850-2001"
2002-02-21 until 2002-08-18
Victoria and Albert Museum
London, , UK

Seeing Things: Photographing Objects 1850-2001 in the Canon Photography Gallery at the Vand A explores the rich area of photographic still life and objects in photography. Presented in six sections, Seeing Things uses famous and lesser known photographs to look at the range of ways photographers use objects to compose a memorable image. With images from photography's early years to dazzling, huge renditions of objects made in today’s digital age, it takes in the full spectrum of documentary, fine art, advertising and portraiture.

It features many of the greatest practitioners of photography, including Julia Margaret Cameron, Eugene Atget, Man Ray, Henri Cartier-Bresson, William Eggleston, Helen Chadwick as well as prominent younger photographers. Natural Things features images of natural forms by the outstanding American photographers Paul Strand, Edward Weston and Paul Caponigro. It includes early photographic techniques, such as cyanotype, which was used to record plant forms around 1850. People and Things shows the ways in which portrait photographers choose objects to illuminate their sitters. One of the most notorious and influential examples is the curve-backed chair on which a naked Christine Keeler posed in Lewis Morley’s famous photograph in 1963. Many of the finest examples of the genre appear here, including contributions from Africa’s Seydou Keita, Japan’s Araki and New York’s Richard Avedon. Artefacts presents exquisite photographs of works of art and design, from jewel-like Daguerreotypes of the 1850s that document museum objects, through modern masterpieces by Man Ray and others.

Reinventing Things takes us into the studios of contemporary artists who have re-worked historical artistic themes. It includes works such as Sex No.1 by Hannah Collins, which presents over-scale oysters dripping with liquor. Vanitas by Helen Chadwick uses a photocopying machine and blue toner to brilliant effect to update the idea of the memento mori. Givens shows how photographers have found ready-made still life photographs in the street, a tradition which extends from photographic pioneers Eugene Atget and Henri Cartier-Bresson in Paris, to the Americans Berenice Abbott, Walker Evans and Lee Friedlander. Making Things, presents photographs of objects which only exist to be photographed – virtual realities or photographic fictions of mysterious beauty.

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