The Carter has five photographs in MOMA's current exhibition Into the Sunset: Photography's Image of the American West, which closes June 8. If you're going to be in NYC, stop and check them out.
White Birch, one of the Carter's six paintings by Georgia O'Keeffe, is also currently on view at SFMOMA until September as part of the exhibition Georgia O'Keeffe and Ansel Adams: Natural Affinities.
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
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
This Monday would have been the 157th birthday of photographer Gertrude KÃ¤sebier, the subject of week's photo of the week post.
KÃ¤sebier 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 KÃ¤sebier, Photographer, platinum print, ca. 1910-1911
KÃ¤sebier 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 KÃ¤sebier's work.
For photo of the week, here are a few of KÃ¤sebier's photographs from the Carter's copy of the inaugural January 1903 issue of Camera Work.
Gertrude KÃ¤sebier, Blessed Art Thou Among Women, photogravure
Gertrude KÃ¤sebier, Portrait (Miss N.), photogravure
Gertrude KÃ¤sebier, The Red Man, photogravure
How can you help?
As you know, the Amon Carter Museum is an entirely free museum. The collection, exhibitions, and programs are free of charge to ensure that everyone has the chance to learn about their shared cultural history. We are able to continue free admission and programs because of your generous donations!
This Wednesday, the Carter has an exciting opportunity that will double gifts made to the museum! Stretching the value of your contribution through a matched gift helps the Carter’s mission, and we are encouraging all of the museum’s friends to help us this Wednesday.
”¢ What is it? The Communities Foundation of Texas (CFTX) has created an online giving program called DonorBridge, and nonprofits that have created a profile–like the Carter–can receive donations through this site. For one day only, those donations will be matched dollar-for-dollar by CFTX!
”¢ How will it work? On Wednesday, May 20, beginning at 12:01 a.m. (it’s early, we know), DonorBridge opens its Web site to the public. During that day only, beginning right after midnight, any gift (credit card only) of $25 to $2,500 made to the Carter will be matched 1:1 by CFTX. Note: gifts will be matched only until the allotted matching funds of $200,000 are depleted–so the earliest birds get the worms.
”¢ How can you help? On Wednesday, May 20 go to www.donorbridgetx.org Follow the simple instructions to make a donation to the Carter. The site is completely secure; you will not have to register, so you will not receive any future unsolicited e-mails.
Please call Director of Development Carol Noel at 817.989.5066 if you have any questions, or if you would like us to process your donation for you.
We sincerely thank you for considering a gift to the Carter. Every gift is critical in helping us serve our audiences.
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
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
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)
Through the magic of videoconferencing technology we continue to hold discussions with educators across the country about how to creatively use the Carter’s artworks in their classrooms long after an exhibition has been removed from the galleries. This week the 2007 photography exhibition With New Eyes: Exploration and the American West inspired a professional development broadcast that served teachers from Brock to Cotulla. This program explored photographs of four nineteenth-century U.S. government surveys, and while the missions of these surveys and the resulting images are fascinating, what really intrigues me is that the images were even made in the first place.
Most of the expedition photographers created albumen silver prints (like Carleton Watkins’ Commencement of the Whitney Glacier, Summit of Mt. Shasta above) using the wet plate collodion process. The glass plates had to be prepared, the plate exposed, and the image developed---all while the plate was still wet. Watch a contemporary photographer demonstrate the process, and think about how challenging it would have been for Watkins to create his Mt. Shasta image. In fact, Watkins---who was already a veteran of expeditions through California and acclaimed for his mammoth-plate photographs of Yosemite by the time he joined Clarence King’s U.S. Geological Survey of the Fortieth Parallel---prepared a special enclosed wagon as a mobile darkroom to augment his technical facility during the arduous trek. If the process alone wasn’t difficult enough, imagine for a moment carrying around all of your glass plate negatives and all of your photographic supplies over rough, rocky terrain.
Sometimes you can even see evidence of the process in the finished prints. Look closely at Watkins’ The Shasta Buttes below. The hazy gap in the center of the photograph is the product of an uneven application of collodion.
The next time you take a picture on your digital camera or cell phone, tip your hat to those nineteenth-century photographers who needed more than a split second to compose their awe-inspiring views!