photography

A Band Apart: Ralph Eugene Meatyard and Francesca Woodman

Currently on view at the de Young and SFMOMA are two significant photography exhibitions—Ralph Eugene Meatyard: Dolls and Masks and Francesca Woodman, respectively. In this rare, behind-the-scenes look at the curatorial process, Julian Cox (of the de Young) and Corey Keller (of SFMOMA) discuss the elusive issues of artistic intention and practice, the mythology of the artist, and the position of Meatyard and Woodman in the history of photography.

Meatyard Woodman

Left: Ralph Eugene Meatyard (American, 1925–1972). Untitled, ca. 1960–1962. Gelatin silver print. Museum purchase, John Pritzker Fund. 2011.4.1. Right: Francesca Woodman (American, 1958–1981). My House, Providence, Rhode Island, 1976. Gelatin silver print. Courtesy George and Betty Woodman. x2011.467.032

Through the Looking Glass: December Artist-in-Residence Genevieve Quick

December Artist-in-Residence Genevieve Quick examines the history and wonder of telescopes, Victorian projectors, photography and space-age satellites. In The Lens Lab (on view through December 31, 2011, in the Kimball Education Gallery), Quick invites the public to interact with her hand-fabricated cameras. Participants are encouraged to use her modified cameras to photograph the museum and its grounds.

FRAME|WORK: Halved Cabbage by Edward Weston

Tomorrow, most of us will sit down with family and friends to enjoy a cornucopia of Thanksgiving comestibles that will leave many satiated to the point of sickness. In preparation, this week’s FRAME|WORK takes a closer look at Edward Weston’s Halved Cabbage, whose beauty and detail give new meaning to the concept of good taste.

More Real than Real: The Photography of Ralph Eugene Meatyard

Photographs, a ubiquitous component of contemporary life, serve as an ever-evolving record of our lives and those of our friends and family. Children provide an immediate source of inspiration, and many new parents quickly adopt the role of amateur photographer.

FRAME|WORK: Magnolia Blossom by Imogen Cunningham

FRAME|WORK is a weekly blog series that highlights an artwork in the Museums' permanent collections. This week, we feature an iconic photograph by renowned Bay Area photographer Imogen Cunningham. Magnolia Blossom is currently not on view, so take some time to stop and smell the flowers (virtually)!

FRAME|WORK: Lewis Powell (Alias Payne), Conspirator, Seated and Manacled by Alexander Gardner

FRAME|WORK is a weekly blog series that highlights an artwork in the Museums' permanent collections. This week, we feature a powerful Civil War-era photograph from The Album of the Lincoln Conspiracy. This work is currently not on view, so we have provided an exclusive online viewing!

RTI Photography of the Red-Figure Pelike

In my last post, I introduced you to the cutting edge photography Reflectance Transformation Imaging (RTI), a technique invented by Tom Malzbender at Hewlett Packard Labs. Here at the Museums, we have been using RTI to gain better understanding of objects in our permanent collection. We have just completed another round of RTI photography of this 5th-century Greek pelike.

Preserving Images of the 1906 Earthquake

The Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco is home to a unique collection of 167 film negatives taken by photographer Arnold Genthe chronicling the aftermath of the 1906 earthquake and fires. The negatives were acquired by the Legion of Honor in 1943.

Genthe 1

Arnold Genthe (photographer), American, 1869–1942
Untitled (Earthslip on San Francisco's Union Street), 1906
Cellulose nitrate negative
Museum purchase, James D. Phelan Bequest Fund. 1943.407.6.1

On the day of the earthquake Genthe, an established photographer best known for his society portraits and views of old Chinatown, took to the streets of San Francisco equipped with a handheld Kodak camera and pockets full of roll film.

The film Genthe used was composed of a gelatin silver emulsion on a thin plastic support of cellulose nitrate. Cellulose nitrate film was introduced commercially at the end of the nineteenth century and remained in use until the mid-twentieth century. Lightweight, transparent and flexible, cellulose nitrate film freed photographers from the inconveniences of its predecessors, paper and glass plate negatives.

Cutting Edge Photography Technique Comes to the de Young!

My name is Sue Grinols and as the director of photo services and imaging, I witness the intersection of art and technology on a daily basis. This is an exciting time to be working in photography. Just seeing how technology is changing the field can be breathtaking, not to mention challenging.

Photographing artwork is a sub-specialty of studio photography. Here at the Museums, we use the same equipment and techniques as photographers who produce beautiful images of cars, perfume bottles, leather couches, and the perfectly grilled steak. But instead of trying to capture the steak’s sizzle or the couch’s inviting warmth, we attempt to bring out the essential character of the artwork while emphasizing its sublime beauty whenever possible. When we’re not doing that, we can make images that show the hard, cold details of an object in order to help conservators as they work through treating the artwork, or to help curators in their scholarly study of an object. It is this second type of photography that I want to blog about today.

Julian Cox in conversation with Collection Connections artist Marco Breuer

In the midst of the 48-hour installation of Line of Sight, Founding Curator of Photography and Chief Curator at the de Young Julian Cox sat down with Marco Breuer to discuss his artistic practice.

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