Art photography

OU’s ‘Pictorialism’ Exhibition Focuses on Fine Art Photography | New


The use of photographic technology to create artistic images, beyond simply recording what the human eye sees, dates back to its creation.

A genre of this practice called “pictorialism” emerged 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 scholar learned a lot from running this show.

“Before I started to study this project, I really considered Pictorialism to be a turn-of-the-century phenomenon,” said Jerman, “that it had dissipated in the 1910s, and this is true of the official period of the movement. But these ideas manifested themselves 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 until the 20th century.

The photo of Eve Arnold watches a lady bathing at home. Her washed stockings and lingerie are hung to dry on an overhead line. It is 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 OU’s permanent collection. Some of them were made by students relatively recently.

Retired OU Professor Emeritus Andrew Strout 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 with Andy Strout. and I got to see the kind of photos that one of them does now and put their work forward.

Lisa Jobe is one of those former OUs. She is a painter, book illustrator and photographer based on the East Coast. Another is Debbie Fisher, a jeweler from Brooklyn, NY, whose designs are marketed across the country. The two women studied at OU in the late 1980s.

“They each said that Professor Strout had been meaningful to their careers,” Jerman said.

Among the most recognizable images of Long Exposure is that of Hollywood actor James Dean (1931-1955) taken by Dennis Stock. It’s Dean walking on a rainy day in Times Square.

The collar of his overcoat 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 sense. It is an excellent photograph and does not appear to be 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 its transformation into more conventional photography. The aesthetic hold 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 many narratives like in a 19th century genre painting, and many 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 pictorialism over time and there was no difficulty. It was very fun.”


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