Notes from Underground

Photo of the Week: Museums, Part I

Like everyone else, professional photographers like to take pictures in museums. Whatever your feelings on the matter, it can make for some interesting photographs. Since I found quite a few in the Carter's collection, this is going to be a two-part Photo of the Week with images spanning the 20th century.

This week: museums from 1900-1950


Karl Struss, [Albright Art Gallery, Buffalo, New York, gallery interior showing "International Exhibition of Pictorial Photography"], 1910, platinum print, ©1983 Amon Carter Museum

For comparison, check out a recent installation shot at what is now called the Albright-Knox Art Gallery.


Dorothy Norman, Exterior MOMA--Stieglitz Exhibit, 1947, gelatin silver print, ©1998 Center for Creative Photography, The University of Arizona Foundation.

Posthumous Stieglitz photography retrospective at MOMA.


Elliott Erwitt, Diana/New York, 1949, gelatin silver print, © 1949 Elliott Erwitt

Erwitt is known for his visual wit - notice how Diana seems to aim her arrow at the guard in the next gallery. You can see some different views of this sculpture here or come see the Carter's own Diana on view in the main gallery!

Stay tuned next week for more recent museum interiors, including some very familiar faces.

"Views & Visions" Installation

The Carter's newest exhibition, Views and Visions: Prints of the American West, 1820–1970 opens this coming Saturday and features over 100 prints and book illustrations from the permanent collection.

Shows drawn from the permanent collection generally require more behind-the-scenes work from Carter staff; unlike traveling exhibitions where the artworks often arrive framed and ready for installation, works from the Carter's collection must be matted, framed, labeled, and so on. It's a complicated process that takes months - and most museum staff in some capacity - to do properly.

Speaking of which, here is a peek behind the scenes of the Carter staff getting ready for the big Views and Visions opening later this week.


Preparators Greg, Steve, and Les getting ready to install the last artworks in the show


An action shot of preparators Steve and Les working very quickly to attach backings and hangers to the last two prints.

Photo of the Week: Music to My Ears

Jazz By the Boulevard kicks off tonight right next door to the Carter, so this installment of Photo of the Week draws images of artist-musicians from the Laura Gilpin archive in the Carter's photography collection.


Laura Gilpin, The Prelude, New York (Edith Rubel Trio), platinum print, 1917; © 1979 Amon Carter Museum

Gilpin's close friend, sculptor Brenda Putnam (1890-1975), is seated at the piano.


Laura Gilpin, Randall Davey, gelatin silver print, 1947; Bequest of the artist, © 1979 Amon Carter Museum.

Randall Davey (1887-1964) was an American painter who exhibited in the pivotal 1913 Armory Show. A student of Robert Henri and friends with John Sloan, he was also a self-taught cellist. Davey relocated to Santa Fe, where Gilpin took this portrait in 1947.

Photo of the Week: Fact vs. Fiction

Have you noticed the recent articles in the New York Times about staged photographs, specifically the veracity of Robert Capa's famous Falling Soldier photo? As this NYT blog post and anyone who deals with historical photographs can tell you, photographers 'enhancing' their subject matter is nothing new.
The Carter has several 19th century photographs where the action is most certainly staged:


Alexander Gardner, Home of a Rebel Sharpshooter, Gettysburg, albumen silver print, 1863
This is the same photograph described in the second NYT link. Gardner made the mistake of taking two photographs of the same soldier in different locations.


William Notman, Asleep at the Cabana, albumen silver print, ca. 1865
This 'outdoor' scene was set up inside the photographer’s studio!
Edited to add: This photo is on view in the Carter's photography galleries until January 2010 as part of the exhibition Masterworks of American Photography: Moments in Time.


Unknown artist, [Soldiers in staged fight], ambrotype with applied color, ca. 1863
This medium’s slow exposure speed tells us this fight is staged – "action" shots were impossible with the technology of the time.

Photo of the Week: Back to School

You may have noticed there was no Photo of the Week for last week. We were undergoing a major behind-the-scenes upgrade to the Carter website and didn't want to lose any blog posts! I'll make it up to you this week with a super-sized Photo of the Week with extra images, celebrating the first week of school here in Fort Worth!

All the following photos depict schools and students here in Texas:


Lewis Hine, [Children at a district school near Corsicana], October 1913, gelatin silver print, Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Allan M. Disman


Lewis Hine, [Kindergarten students], October 1913, gelatin silver print, Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Allan M. Disman


Esther Bubley, High School. Typing Class. Tomball, Texas, 1945, gelatin silver print
Gift of Texas Monthly, Inc., printed from a negative in the Standard Oil of New Jersey Collection, University of Louisville Photographic Archives; © Standard Oil Company


Esther Bubley, High School. Band and Baton Twirlers Practicing on the Football Field. Notice Tank Battery in Background. Tomball, Texas, 1945, gelatin silver print
Gift of Texas Monthly, Inc., printed from a negative in the Standard Oil of New Jersey Collection, University of Louisville Photographic Archives; © Standard Oil Company

Photo of the Week: Office Space

I'd never noticed until this morning just how many photographs of workers there are in the Carter's collection. And not just photos of exciting outdoor work, but people sitting at their desks...going back to 1847!

For Photo of the Week, pencil-pushing through the years:


Unknown artist, [Unidentified civilian, seated at desk, pen in hand] , daguerreotype, ca. 1847, Gift of Paul Katz, Bennington, Vermont


Karl Struss, [Cecil B. Demille in his studio office], gelatin silver print, 1919
©1983 Amon Carter Museum


William Joseph Carner, C. R. Church, Jr., Seismographic Computer, Checking and Comparing Seismograph Reflections Sent in from the Field. Humble Oil and Refining Co., Houston, Texas, gelatin silver print, 1947
Gift of Texas Monthly, Inc., printed from a negative in the Standard Oil of New Jersey Collection, University of Louisville Photographic Archives, © Standard Oil Company


Paul Hester, Republic Bank. Office. Houston, gelatin silver print, 1984
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 Paul Hester

Photo of the Week: Rainy Day

Because we're all so excited about the unseasonably un-miserable weather lately, this installment of Photo of the Week features an unusual view of a rainy day. Special thanks to registrars Melissa and Lacey for helping choose this photo from hundreds of contenders.


Ruth Bernhard (1905-2006), Apple Tree, gelatin silver print, 1970
Gift of Paul Brauchle, Dallas, Texas, ©1970 Ruth Bernhard

Photo of the Week: The Man in the Moon

The moon has been a source of inspiration for artists for ages, and it is a common theme in the Carter's collection. In honor of the 40th anniversary of the moon landing on Monday, our Photo of the Week features some charming, pre-space-race depictions of the moon from the photography collection: postcards from the moon!

Spooning in the Moon, published by A.C. Busselman, halftones with applied color, ca. 1906



And my favorite:

Spooning in the Moon is not currently on view, but you can see two more recent interpretations of the moon at the Carter right now: Louise Nevelson's Lunar Landscape, currently installed in the permanent paintings and sculpture galleries, and Moon Face (Cara de Luna), now on view in the exhibition Rufino Tamayo: Tamarind Lithography Workshop.

New acquisition in Star-Telegram

Check out this nice article in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram about the Carter's new photography acquisition, Edward Curtis’s The North American Indian portfolio set (previously here and here).

Photo of the Week: The Atomic Age, Part II

Today marks the anniversary of the first atomic weapons test in 1945. This first test took place in New Mexico; extensive atomic testing was also done in Nevada and Washington state, which is the subject of this week's photos by Nevada photographer Peter Goin.


Peter Goin, Site of Above-Ground Tests, Yucca Lake, dye coupler print, 1986, © 1990 Peter Goin

Yucca Lake is a nuclear test site in the Nevada desert -- only 65 miles from Las Vegas -- where a shocking 739 tests were performed between 1951 and 1992. This particular photograph shows the aftermath of above-ground nuclear testing, but apparently underground testing at the site also created craters large enough for the Apollo 14 astronauts to use for training.


Peter Goin, Burial Ground [Hanford Plant], dye coupler print, 1987, © 1990 Peter Goin

Hanford was a huge nuclear reactor in Washington state that produced the plutonium used in the first atomic test in New Mexico, tests at Yucca Lake, and the bomb used at Nagasaki in World War II. The plant stopped producing plutonium in the 1940s, but with 53 million gallons of nuclear waste still at the site, it is considered to be the most contaminated nuclear site in the United States. But why is this photograph called "Burial Ground"? The last reactor at Hanford was shut down in 1987, and since then most of the structures have been "cocooned" and buried here in the desert.