Northlight Gallery presents a series of exhibitions from the Solari Foundation Collection, featuring works by photographers many will know, but may never have seen outside a photo history textbook. Beginning Aug. 18 at 6 p.m., explore the canon from Atget and Avedon to Weston and Warhol, from Daguerreotype to digital.
For over two decades, Northlight Gallery has been the steward of the Solari Foundation Collection, which has provided School of Art faculty and students with the opportunity to study these significant works. “Now the public will be able to view prints by early practitioners, avant garde artists, renowned photographers and groundbreakers in the field,” said curator and Northlight Gallery director, Liz Allen.
Following the announcement of the daguerreotype process in France in 1839, an elite group of intellectuals and entrepreneurs sought to develop the potential of photography for artistic and commercial purposes. Antoine Claudet, one of the first to travel to Paris to learn the process and subsequently open a lucrative portrait studio in London, made technical advances allowing him to produce exquisite stereographic daguerreotypes of his sitters, a rare extant example is featured in the exhibition. Julia Margaret Cameron’s portraits of her famous neighbors often couched her blurry subjects in metaphor. The Victorians’ desire for portraits was surpassed only by their desire for images of the exotic. Countless images were made by adventurous photographers who traveled the globe and sold their albumen prints to armchair travelers. These photographs still hold much of the same amazement a century and a half later. You will wonder at Englishman Francis Frith’s image of Petra, Frenchman Maxime du Camp’s Istanbul made during a government expedition, and J. Pascal Sébah’s panorama of his native city Constantinople.
In the 20th century, art photography was profoundly shaped by the opinions, publications and exhibitions of two men: Alfred Stieglitz and John Szarkowski. The Solari Foundation holds a set of Camera Works published by Stieglitz between 1903 and 1917 in which he tirelessly promotes photography as an art form. Although Edward Weston is famous for his Straight photography with infinite depth of field, the portrait of his lover, Tina Modotti, and her mother in the Solari Foundation Collection employs the soft focus and glowing light of Pictorialism. A 1920 still-life titled “Three Apples” by another of Stieglitz’s inner circle, Edward Steichen, hints at the style that Weston and the f/64 photographers will adopt a decade later. Steichen was the director of photography at MOMA until 1962, when he hired Szarkowski to replace him. Szarkowski championed Garry Winogrand as he defined Modernist photography at midcentury.
Additonally, the Solari Foundation Collection exhibition includes works by these 20th century photographers: Eugene Atget, André Kertézs, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Manuel Álvarez Bravo, Margaret Bourke-White, Minor White, Richard Avedon, Larry Clark and Bill Owens, as well as polaroids made by Andy Warhol. Each of these significant works will be accompanied by an essay written by Arizona State University students for a catalogue edited by ASU professor Besty Fahlman and supervised by Professor Emeritus James Hajicek. Join ASU faculty, staff and students in the gallery for the grand opening of Regarding the Canon: The Solari Foundation Collection. The gallery opens at 6 p.m.; presentations begin at 6:30 p.m.
Image credit: Marie Spartali, c.1870 by Julia Margaret Cameron