Notes from Underground

Photo of the Week: Roping Rabbits

This week's photo brings some levity back to the blog. The image is actually a 100-year-old postcard that was included in the Carter's 2004 exhibition, Wish You Were Here! Early Postcards from the Collection. I like this photo not only because it's funny, but it reminds me of one of my favorite (completely ridiculous) horror movies, Night of the Lepus.


William H. Martin, [Lassoing a rabbit], gelatin silver print (postcard), 1909

Photo of the Week: Close Up

I've been tinkering with the digital macro feature on my own camera this week, so I thought Photo of the Week would be a great opportunity to show off a couple of close-ups from the Carter's photography collection.


Edward Weston, No. 10--Pepper, gelatin silver print, 1930, ©1981 Center for Creative Photography, Arizona Board of Regents


Willard Van Dyke, Mushrooms, ca. 1934, gelatin silver print 1977, © 1934 Barbara M. Van Dyke

Photo of the Week: Gertrude Käsebier

This Monday would have been the 157th birthday of photographer Gertrude Käsebier, the subject of week's photo of the week post.

Käsebier was very influential in the early 20th century, not just for her pictorialist portrait photography, but also for her independence and efforts to promote women in photography.


Clara Sipprell, Gertrude Käsebier, Photographer, platinum print, ca. 1910-1911

Käsebier didn't attend art school until her late 30s, and didn't try photography until her early 40s. A few years later, she was already taking her famous portraits of Native Americans touring with wild west shows through New York and was included in Alfred Stieglitz's photography magazine, Camera Notes. She was one of the first women members of the Linked Ring and a founding member of Stieglitz's Photo-Secession group. The first issue of Stieglitz's influential photography magazine, Camera Work, was dedicated exclusively to Käsebier's work.

For photo of the week, here are a few of Käsebier's photographs from the Carter's copy of the inaugural January 1903 issue of Camera Work.


Gertrude Käsebier, Blessed Art Thou Among Women, photogravure


Gertrude Käsebier, Portrait (Miss N.), photogravure


Gertrude Käsebier, The Red Man, photogravure

Smillie and the Smithsonian

Interesting post today on the Smithsonian's photo blog about the photographer Thomas Smillie. I had seen his name quite a bit in the Carter's collection of photographs from the Bureau of American Ethnology, but was not aware that he was also the Smithsonian's first staff photographer and photography curator. He even acquired the first American daguerreotype equipment for the Smithsonian for a whopping $23 in 1896 (that's less than $600 adjusted for 2009 inflation!).

Here are a couple of our Thomas Smillie portraits of Native Americans, and you can see a lot more over of the Smithsonian's Smillie collection on Flickr Commons.


Thomas Smillie, Eagle Chief, collodion silver chloride print, 1905


Thomas Smillie, His Hoop or Canhdeska, albumen silver print, 1904

Photo of the Week: Mexican-American War

The U.S. declared war on Mexico on this day in 1847 after Mexico refused to recognize Texas's independence and subsequent annexation into the United States. Not only did this war finally win US control of Texas, it also resulted in the US purchase of most of the southwest (comprising five present-day states and parts of 4 others) for a mere $18 million.

The Mexican-American War was the first to be documented by the new medium of photography, as the process was perfected in France only a few years before and introduced in the US in the early 1840s. In the early 1980s, the Carter acquired a group of Mexican War daguerreotypes, which were subsequently the subject of a major exhibition called Eyewitness to War: Prints and Daguerreotypes of the Mexican War, 1846-1848.

According to the exhibition catalogue, these rare works are made more special because "daguerreotypes were made on the spot,”¦each image was exposed in the camera and developed as a unique positive. Thus every daguerreotype plate, while in the camera, was in close proximity to the subject recorded on its surface. When we hold a daguerreotype of Mexican War troops in our hand, we hold a piece of silver-plated copper that was actually on the same street as those soldiers 140 [sic] years ago." Even though I see and handle 19th century photographs all the time, that idea gives me chills.

For photo of the week, here are some of my favorite Mexican War daguerreotypes.


Artist unknown, Col. Hamtramck, Virginia Volunteers, daguerreotype, ca. 1847


Artist unknown, Mexican Family, daguerreotype, ca. 1847


Artist unknown, [Street scene in Durango, Mexico], daguerreotype, ca. 1847


Artist unknown, [Parroquia de Santiago, Saltillo, Mexico], daguerreotype, ca. 1847


Artist unknown, Burial Place of Son of Henry Clay in Mexico, daguerreotype, 1847

Art:21 series on Hulu

This is cool. PBS's contemporary art series, Art:21, is now available online on Hulu. You can watch every episode in its entirety online now, which is great because I never could seem to catch it on our local PBS station. Note that the Ecology episode in season 4 features the photographer Robert Adams, who has over 100 works in the Carter's collection. (Thanks, MAN)

Photo of the Week: Galapagos

This time our photo of the week comes from the Carter's vast Eliot Porter collection. Because we have Porter's entire archive and he so diligently organized his work, we can pinpoint exactly what day he shot most of his photographs. I think we probably have at least one - and probably many more - photograph for every day of the year.

The following photo was taken on this day during Porter's 1966 expedition to the Galapagos Islands.


Eliot Porter, Fur Seal, Alcedo Camp on Isabela Island, Galápagos Islands, May 6, 1966, dye imbibition print, bequest of the artist, ©1990 Amon Carter Museum

One More Week of Crane

Just a reminder that our current special exhibition, Barbara Crane: Challenging Vision, closes this coming Sunday, May 10, to make room for our next special exhibition of works on paper from the Harmon and Harriet Kelley Collection of African-American Art.

Photo of the Week: Galveston, TX

Today's Photo of the Week post is inspired by my upcoming trip to see friends in Galveston this weekend. The following images of Galveston from the Carter's collection are all by Stuart Klipper, a Minneapolis-based photographer known for panoramic landscapes.


Stuart Klipper, VFW Post, 24th Street, Galveston, dye coupler print


Stuart Klipper, Box Car, off Port Industrial Boulevard, Port of Galveston, dye coupler print


Stuart Klipper, Beth Jacob Synagogue, Galveston, dye coupler print

All works are a Gift of the Texas Historical Foundation with support from a major grant from the DuPont Company and Conoco, its energy subsidiary, and assistance from the Texas Commission on the Arts and the National Endowment for the Arts, © 1984 Stuart Klipper

Looking for Loot

New tips in the case of the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum heist, the largest unsolved art theft in history, claim some of the stolen works have been spotted here in Texas! Keep your eye out for any Vermeers, Rembrandts, Degas, or Manets just lying about...