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Displaying items by tag: modern photography

A pair of feet dangle from the top half of the frame — two unremarkable men’s shoes topped by trouser legs caught mid-flap in an insistent breeze. Far below lie the diagonals and verticals of a building and its back lot — rows of blacked-out windows, regimented lines of trees. And though the plain logic of the photograph, titled “Seconds Before Landing,” from Willi Ruge’s 1931 documentary series “I photograph myself during a parachute jump,” tells you that one thing is hurtling toward another, the work gives off a strange sense of suspended motion, an anxiety that won’t quite be dispelled by any impending landing.

Plenty of the 300-plus images in MoMA’s expansive new exhibition, “Modern Photographs from the Thomas Walther Collection, 1909-1949,” feel especially weighty with symbolic import — like Herbert Bayer’s “Humanly Impossible (Self-Portrait),” 1932.

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In the late 19th century, Eadweard Muybridge experimented with multiple cameras, fast shutter mechanisms, and tripwires to study animal and human motion. He produced hundreds of plates, including his famous sequence showing that a horse’s four legs all leave the ground at some point when it runs. A few decades later, Man Ray neglected the camera altogether to create his “rayographs,” creating pictures by placing objects on photographic paper and exposing the sheet to light. Taking to the streets in the mid-20th century, William Klein wielded his lens in a rapid and direct manner to capture the raw reality of everyday life. These represent some of the major innovations in the history of photography, explored in "Modern Times. Photography in the 20th Century," a new exhibition that opened recently at Amsterdam’s Rijksmuseum.

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An exhibition titled At War with the Obvious: Photographs by William Eggleston is now on view at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. William Eggleston (b. 1939) became pioneering force in modern photography during the 1960s and helped legitimize color photography as a respected art form. He also popularized the dye-transfer color process, a practice that until then was primarily used by commercial photographers. Eggleston, who remains a prominent figure in the modern art world, draws inspiration from a number of sources including the photography of Robert Frank (b. 1924) and Henri Cartier-Bresson (1908-2004) as well as the musical compositions of Johann Bach.

A native of the Mississippi delta region, Eggleston’s photographs often depict the inhabitants as well as the physical landscape of the area. Drawn to seemingly ordinary subject matters, Eggleston is able to evoke a sense of complexity and raw beauty from the mundane. Often featuring roadside snapshots, backyard barbeques, parking lots, and diners, Eggleston’s photographs act as a lush interpretation of the American vernacular.

At War with the Obvious commemorates the Met’s acquisition of 36 dye-transfer prints by Eggleston, which took place in the fall of 2012. The addition fleshed out the museum’s Eggleston collection and included his first portfolio of color photographs from 1974, 15 prints from his seminal book, William Eggleston’s Guide (1976), and seven other important works from a career that has spanned over 50 years.

At War with the Obvious features a number of Eggleston’s most recognizable images including Untitled (Peaches!) (1970), Untitled (Greenwood, Mississippi) (1980), and Untitled (Memphis) (1970). The exhibition will be on view through July 28, 2013.

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