Seeing Ourselves: Masterpieces of American Photography from George Eastman House Collection opens February 12 at the New York State Museum
as the next exhibition in the Bank of America Great Art Series.
On view through May 9 in the Museums West Gallery, the exhibition is the 22nd installment of the Bank of America Great Art Exhibition and Education Program, which brings art from New York States leading art museums and collections to the State Museum.
Seeing Ourselves introduces American audiences to historical and contemporary photographic masterpieces. Proving the power of photography, more than 155 images and artifacts tell the story of America over the last 150 years. Through this specialized photography collection of faces, places, events and actions, many visitors will see themselves. The photographers range from professionals such as Lewis W. Hine, Dorothea Lange, Matthew Brady and many others, to several who are unidentified. The images capture America and Americans in various ages and stages. They depict grandeur and simplicity, joy and anger, beauty and grit. A limited number of brochures on the exhibition will be available at the gallery entrance, made possible by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.
The exhibition is drawn entirely from the collection of George Eastman House. It 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.
The American Masterpieces section displays photographs that show outstanding artistry, skill or workmanship. They show that American masterpieces cover a broad spectrum of subject, format, and history. 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.
In the American Faces section visitors will see 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.
The America at War section reminds visitors that 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. Images will include A Harvest of Death, Gettysburg by Timothy OSullivan; David Douglas Duncans Combat, Korea; Reaching Out, The DMZ by Larry Burrows; and Vietnam Memorial, Washington, DC by Hiroshi Watanabe.
Timeless photographs that exemplify the beauty and power of nature and an expanding America are included in the America the Beautiful section. On display will be William Henry Jacksons Mt Sopris, from Junction of Rock Creek, Refugio Beach by Ansel Adams, Dunes by Edward Weston and Desertscape, Death Valley by Marilyn Bridges.
The American Families section explores the role photography can play in helping to put our own family experience into context and define family for ourselves. Included are 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.
Forty-minute Interpretive Tours of Seeing Ourselves, and an open discussion focusing on several photographs, will be held at 1 and 2 p.m. on February 13-14, 27-28, March 20-21, April 24-25 and May. 8-9.
A podcast is available at http://podcast.eastmanhouse.org/discussing-seeing-ourselves/.