Touchstones of the Twentieth Century: A History of Photography at the University of Notre Dame

August 11 – December 12, 2020

Ilse Bing, American, born in Germany, 1899-1998, Self-Portrait with Mirrors, 1931, Gelatin silver print, Gift of Robert E. Grady and Beverly O’Grady, 2011.028

Notre Dame, In. The Snite Museum of Art at the University of Notre Dame  announces a landmark exhibition to coincide with the publication of a  catalogue documenting the history of the photography collection at the Museum.  The Snite Museum of Art is home to a noteworthy collection of photographs, one of the finest academic collections in the nation. Although the 19th-century collection is renowned, the 20th-century collection is equally significant but lesser-known.  This exhibition of one hundred carefully selected American and European photographs is the first presentation of this scope at Notre Dame.  It will provide a survey of creative photography through the course of the century, an era when such images were known worldwide, providing touchstones of history and culture. Among this survey are iconic works by Alfred Stieglitz and Lewis Wickes Hine at the dawn of the century, as well as photographs by Sally Mann and John Baldessari in its final decades. The photographs have been chosen to exemplify major developments in visual culture, historical events, and the stylistic and technical evolution of photography. This dynamic century–marked by two world wars, aesthetic and news pictures, and humans on the moon–is preserved in the collective memory in photographic images.

The installation will unfold in a roughly chronological arrangement over seven galleries. This presentation is meant to guide college students in diverse ways of confronting and understanding works of art. It also provides an introduction to the history of photography.  Wall labels introduce many of the photographers, their media, and practices in a clear, accessible manner.

DAVID ACTON, Ph.D. is the Milly and Fritz Kaeser Curator of Photographs at the Snite Museum of Art at the University of Notre Dame. A scholar of prints, drawings, and photographs, he has published extensively about works on paper ranging from the old masters to the 20th century.

A special video series featuring Curator David Acton takes the viewer through the exhibition:

The Miniature Hand-held Camera – Insights from the Curator
Lartigue & Edgerton – Insights from the Curator

A fully-illustrated catalogue accompanies the exhibition:

A History of Photography at the University of Notre Dame, Twentieth Century by David Acton, Ph.D., published by D Giles. Limited in association with The Snite Museum of Art, University of Notre Dame / 464 pages, 150 illustrations / $94.95 hardcover. Available at the Notre Dame Bookstore.

Originally published on snite.nd.edu on August 11, 2020.

August 11, 2020

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