The use of photographic technology to create artistic images, beyond recording what the human eye sees, dates back to its creation.
A genre of this practice called “pictorialism” appeared at the end of the 19th century in Europe and its influence is still felt today.
The Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art at the University of Oklahoma presents more than 80 images associated with this photographic movement in an exhibition entitled “Long Exposure: A Century of Pictorialism.” It is now until June 27.
Eugene B. Adkins Curator Hadley Jerman is the show’s organizer. The art researcher has learned a lot to manage this exhibition.
“Before I started looking into this project, I was really thinking of Pictorialism as a turn-of-the-century phenomenon,” Jerman said, “that it had dissipated in the 1910s, and this is true of the period. official movement. But these ideas materialized in photography over the next century and up to the present day, which is remarkable.
Pictorialism incorporated French Impressionism and paintings associated with the Royal Academy of Arts in England into its photographic styles.
“One of the photos in the exhibition is titled ‘London, 1962’ by Eve Arnold (1913-2012). She was a photojournalist, ”Jerman said. “It’s a very pictorial image with an impressionist subject and composition. The photo shows the legacy of Pictorialism which dates back to the 20th century. “
Eve Arnold’s photo looks at a woman bathing at home. Her washed stockings and lingerie are hung to dry in a line above her head. It’s a very ordinary but compelling image. The photo is not erotic – it was part of a London Sunday Times newspaper series documenting the status of women in the world.
“Some of the images from the late 19th and early 20th centuries have never been seen before,” Jerman said.
All the photos in the exhibition are part of the permanent collection of OU. Some of them were made by students relatively recently.
Andrew Strout, retired UO professor emeritus, served as Jerman’s resource during the curatorial process.
“It was fantastic to have been able to contact some of the newer photographers who were here at OU in the 1980s,” Jerman said. “I heard them talk about what they took away from the photography history classes they took here at Andy Strout. and I got to see the kind of photos one of them is doing right now and highlight their work. “
Lisa Jobe is one of these OU alumni. She is a painter, book illustrator and photographer based on the East Coast. Another is Debbie Fisher, a Brooklyn, NY jeweler whose designs are marketed nationwide. The two women studied at OU in the late 1980s.
“They each said that Professor Strout had played an important role in their careers,” Jerman said.
One of the most recognizable images of Long Exposure is that of Hollywood actor James Dean (1931-1955) taken by Dennis Stock. It’s of Dean walking on a rainy day in Times Square.
The collar of his top coat is popped off and he holds a smoke between his lips.
The photo helped propel Stock’s long and successful career.
“There is a glow about James Dean in this photo,” Jerman said. “He seems to have a halo all over his body. We think this image is documentary in a way. It’s an excellent photograph and doesn’t seem manipulated at first glance.
“But as you research, you learn that the printer dodged and burned the negative of the entire image in the dark room, so there is a lighter area framing its body. It was not a factual representation of what Manhattan looked like that day and was edited to emphasize certain aspects of the composition.
After the 1910s, Pictorialism began to transform into more conventional photography. The aesthetic imprint has remained on some working in the Southern California film industry.
“The (promotional) photos of Hollywood movie stars in the 1920s and 1930s were very much in the vein of pictorialism,” Jerman said. “Soft focus, artfully controlled romantic composition emphasizing glamor and beauty. There are a lot of narratives, like in a 19th century genre painting, and a lot of them look like stills from movies.
Long exposure examples include photos of Greta Garbo, Errol Flynn, and Marilyn Monroe.
“I went through the museum’s collection of photographs and it was not difficult to decide what should be in the exhibit,” Jerman said. “It was more difficult to choose what not to put in the show. There are 82 prints, which is more than a regular show without getting too crowded. We wanted to follow the pictorialism in time and there was no difficulty. It was very fun.”