William Henry Jackson, (American, 1843–1942), Blue River Range (detail), 1880, Photogravure print, 16 1/4 x 20 1/4 in., Purchased with the Michel Roux Acquisition Fund
August 15, 2015-January 3, 2016

Enduring Documents: Selected Photographs from the Permanent Collection

Since the inception of photography, visual documents of significant individuals, geographic spaces, and moments have been produced. Long after a photograph is developed, the images become records of history for a particular society or culture. The photographs included in this exhibition present portraits of important figures such as President Abraham Lincoln and artists Clarence White and Henri Matisse. Images of the American landscape range from the mountains of Colorado to the encroaching industrialization of telephone wires in a deceptively mundane environment. Trailblazing artists such as Matthew Brady, Gertrude Käsebier, and F. Holland Day, some of the earliest American photographers, are represented in addition to Margaret-Bourke White, one of the only foreign photographers active in Russia in the 1930s. Day championed photography as an art form and saw its potential beyond pure documentation. This presentation of photographs, all in the permanent collection of the Cornell Fine Arts Museum, demonstrates the ability of photography to exist as both a complex art form and as a documentary tool that reveals political, social, and cultural histories.

Paul Strand, Telephone Poles, 1916, Photogravure print, Purchased with the Michel Roux Acquisition Fund
Gertrude Käsebier, The Red Man, 1903, Photogravure print, Purchased with the Michel Roux Acquisition Fund

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