Seeing Ourselves: Masterpieces of American Photography from the George Eastman House
Collection introduces American audiences to historical and contemporary photographic masterpieces. The Seeing Ourselves exhibition of 155 images is organized in broad subject-based groupings that represent more than 150 years of photography, rather than as a chronological survey. The groupings reflect the ways contemporary viewers know photography, thus linking their understanding of the present to the practices of the past. Seeing Ourselves gives extensive public exposure and accessible context to the impact of photography on our nation. Seeing Ourselves has been made possible by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts and is drawn entirely from the collection of George Eastman House.
The Seeing Ourselves exhibition is arranged into five sections: American Masterpieces, American Faces, America at War, America the Beautiful, and American Families. Each section addresses key photographic works documenting the American cultural experience:
This section shows that American masterpieces cover a broad spectrum of subject, format, and history; and will demonstrate how some photographs began as intentional works of art while others began as something else – propaganda, information, aide memoire, or novelty — and only later achieved iconic status. This section will include “The Steerage” by Alfred Stieglitz; “Nautilus” by Edward Weston; and “Yosemite Valley, Summer” by Ansel Adams.
This section displays photographs of people that have been used to create celebrity, establish identity, and influence our perceptions. Photographers who have captured these American faces include Mathew Brady, Richard Avedon, Alfred Stieglitz, Dorothea Lange, Edward Steichen, Mary Ellen Mark, and Gordon Parks.
America at War
Of all the information that photography brings us, little is more pressing than news about war. Since the beginning of photography, images have defined our understanding of conflict. This section will include “A Harvest of Death, Gettysburg” by Timothy O’Sullivan; David Douglas Duncan’s “Combat, Korea”; “Reaching Out, The DMZ” by Larry Burrows; and “Vietnam Memorial, Washington, DC” by Hiroshi Watanabe.
America The Beautiful
Timeless photographs that exemplify the beauty and power of nature and an expanding America, included in this section will be William Henry Jackson’s “Mt Sopris, from Junction of Rock Creek”; “Refugio Beach” by Ansel Adams; “Dunes” by Edward Weston; and “Desertscape, Death Valley” by Marilyn Bridges.
For visitors to Seeing Ourselves, and Americans throughout history, the family has been the basic unit of meaning in their lives. This section includes a variety of examples such as “Tenement Penthouse” by Weegee; “Italian Family, Ellis Island” by Lewis Hine; “East Harlem” by Helen Levitt; and “The Damm Family in Their Car” by Mary Ellen Mark.
National Tour Schedule
A total of 11 venues will exhibit Seeing Ourselves between 2007 and 2010. It will be on exhibit at Philbrook Museum of Art
February 1 through April 26, 2009. Then on to Paine Art Center, Oshkosh, WI, June 6 – October 4, 2009 and Fort Wayne Museum of Art, Fort Wayne, IN, October 31, 2009 – January 24, 2010.