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.

Unpacking My Library

Recently I ran across a fascinating project, Unpacking My Library: Architects and Their Books, produced by Urban Center Books and the Municipal Art Society of New York. The project is a series of exhibitions and book that investigates the personal libraries of some prominent architects in the city. Quoting from the Web site's blurb about the forthcoming book:

What does a library say about the mind of its owner? How do books map the intellectual interests, curiosities, tastes, and personalities of their readers? What does the collecting of books have in common with the practice of architecture? Unpacking My Library provides an intimate look at the personal libraries of fourteen of the world’s leading architects, alongside conversations about the significance of books to their careers and lives.

Photographs of bookshelves – displaying well-loved and rare volumes, eclectic organizational schemes, and the individual touches that make a bookshelf one’s own – provide an evocative glimpse of their owner’s personal life. Each architect also presents a reading list of top ten influential titles, from architectural history to theory to fiction and nonfiction, that serves as a kind of personal philosophy of literature and history, and as advice on what every young architect, scholar, and lover of architecture should read.

I find that I think a lot about the personalities of libraries. Unlike a library amassed by a single person, institutional libraries like the Carter's bear the the influences of many individuals over the course of their development: librarians, staff, and many others. They also reflect the various projects the institution has tackled over the years. Collections such as ours also grow through gifts and on several occasions has taken in whole personal libraries (one big example is Eliot Porter's library). It's clear that many people can claim to have made a mark on the collection. It's an amalgam of all these influences. The point is, the Carter library has a personality, complete with idiosyncrasies. It is a unique and dynamic organism, and that's a part of what makes it such a treasure.

Mark Your Calendar

It’s the beginning of a new month–and the perfect time to mark your calendar for all the great things happening at the Carter in September.

September 10 – Sharing the Past through Art
September 19 – Views and Visions: Prints of the American West, 1820–1970 opens.
September 25 – New Parents Tour
September 26 – Day in the District

More info can be found here. And, all are free! See you at the museum.

Game On

Summer is coming to an end, the heat will end soon, and fall is almost here. That might not mean that the leaves will dramatically change color here in north Texas, but it sure means that football season is here! Here's to a great season for all the athletes and their fans.

Helen M. Post (1907--1979)
Phoenix Indian School, Beginning at Football, ca. 1936--1941
Gelatin silver print
Amon Carter Museum, Fort Worth, Texas, Gift of Peter Modley
©Amon Carter Museum

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

Recognizing the Loss

A recent fire destroyed a significant collection of African-American art owned by Peggy Cooper Cafritz. Her loss is our loss too and brings new significance to the Harmon and Harriet Kelley collection now on view at the Carter. This exhibition will close on August 23rd, so be sure to come in and see examples of great American art.

Save the Date

Please join us this Friday for a presentation by the museum’s Davidson Family Fellow, Aaron Carico, PhD candidate in American Studies at Yale University, as he discusses the painting Attention Company! by William Harnett.

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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