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The First Act: Staged Photography Before 1980
January 20–April 29, 2012


Apparent in the upcoming Focus on the Collection installation, the idea of staging pictures through scene setting, acting, and directing has been fundamental to the field of photography since its inception in 1839.

Photographers have visualized literary passages, constructed dreamlike imagery in darkrooms and studios, and drawn upon cinematic techniques in their pursuit of fabricating alternate realities. On view will be twelve photographs spanning 120 years, including works by Julia Margaret Cameron, Edward Steichen, and Cindy Sherman. The First Act provides a prehistory to the large-scale theatrical work in the concurrent feature exhibition, An Orchestrated Vision: The Theater of Contemporary Photography, which explores various elements of theatricality in photography from the last 20 years.


Curated by Eric Lutz, associate curator of prints, drawings and photographs, with Ann-Maree Walker, research assistant, The First Act: Staged Photography Before 1980 will be on view in Gallery 321 from January 20 through April 29, 2012.

This Focus on the Collection installation is presented in conjunction with the exhibition An Orchestrated Vision: The Theater of Contemporary Photography, on view in the Main Exhibition Galleries from February 19 through May 13, 2012.

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