The Bowdoin College Museum of Art Presents Three Special Fall Exhibitions Focusing on Photography’s Role in Imaging Daily Life in the Modern Era
Exhibitions Highlight Seminal Artists of the 20th and 21st Centuries Including Robert Frank, Adi Nes, Shirin Neshat, Dorothea Lange, and Richard Misrach, as well as Work by Amateur Portrait Photographers
This fall, the Bowdoin College Museum of Art (BCMA) will present three special exhibitions that explore the role of photography in articulating identity politics on both a personal and global level. Ranging from a focused exhibition of works by canonical photographer and documentarian Robert Frank, to the group exhibition Art and Resolution, 1900 to Today, exploring how visual artists represent and address conflict through the 20th century, to “Where Do I Go from Here?” Snapshots of Twentieth Century Life, a survey of amateur portrait photographs donated to the museum by American vernacular photography collector Peter Cohen, the Museum’s fall exhibitions demonstrate how photographers from a diverse array of backgrounds, periods, and perspectives have used the medium to negotiate identity and capture the world around them, from the monumental to the ordinary.
“From the mid-nineteenth-century to the present day, photography has played an important role in how both artists and citizens understand their identities as individuals and as members of a community,” notes BCMA Co-Director Anne Goodyear.
“We are thrilled to present three exhibitions that explore different ways of understanding who we are and the world we live in through the lens of a camera,” continues Museum Co-Director Frank Goodyear. “Through collaborations with students and faculty to organize these exhibitions and the exceptional program of related events, our fall programming harnesses the creative and intellectual resources of the Bowdoin community to shed light on some of the pressing issues of our time.”
Robert Frank: Sideways
September 15, 2016 to January 29, 2017
Robert Frank: Sideways highlights the work of one of the most influential photographers of our era. While best known for his seminal series The Americans (1958), the exhibition at Bowdoin brings together a selection of nearly 50 rarely seen photographs from 1947, the year the artist first moved to the United States from Switzerland, to 1961, when he was featured in his first major museum exhibition.
The exhibition explores the development and evolution of Frank’s characteristic style—including his use of low light, pioneering focal strategies, and unconventional cropping—which revolutionized contemporary photography and understanding of the photographer’s relationship with the larger world. Including photographs taken in Europe, South America, and the United States, the exhibition reveals an artist focused on capturing the broadest scope of the world’s moments, people, and sites—from a soldier at a funeral in South Carolina, to a museum exhibition in New York, to Richard Nixon in 1960.
The exhibition is curated by Bowdoin faculty members Michael Kolster, associate professor of art, and Russ Rymer, visiting writer-in-residence, with the assistance of students from spring 2016 seminars Writing Creative Nonfiction Through Photography and Documentary Photography.
“Where Do I Go From Here?” Snapshots of Twentieth Century Life
November 3, 2016 to January 1, 2017
“Where Do I Go From Here?” Snapshots of Twentieth Century Life showcases works from a recent major gift to the Museum’s collection donated by vernacular photography collector Peter Cohen. Selected by student curator Estefanía Chávez-Flores ’17, the exhibition brings together 150 photographs from the gift of approximately 300 works to explore how amateur photographs circumvented and, at times, unsettled assumptions about the definition of portraiture. Through likenesses of family, friends, and themselves, these practitioners experimented with their sense of identity through photography and liberated the medium from its studio past, introducing a new chapter in photographic history.
Art and Resolution, 1900 to Today
November 15, 2016 to April 16, 2017
Art and Resolution, 1900 to Today examines the dual meaning of resolution—as both ‘coming into view’ and ‘overcoming conflict’—through works that touch on the pressing social and political issues of the 20th and 21st centuries. Bringing together approximately 150 highlights from the Museum’s permanent collection and many recent acquisitions, Art and Resolution includes works across media, with a focus on print and photography portfolios, which visualize resolution and its conceptual underpinnings and seek to act as agents of reconciliation through visual culture. Including photographs by artists such as Dorothea Lange, Richard Misrach, Robert Rauschenberg, Shirin Neshat, and Adi Nes, the exhibition presents artistic responses to a range of global issues including climate change, world wars, financial ruin, and the violation of human rights.
Curated by Andrew W. Mellon Post-Doctoral Curatorial Fellow Ellen Tani, highlights of Art and Resolution include a breakout section of large-format color photographs by Israeli artist Adi Nes from the 2012 series The Village, as well as two photographs by Shirin Neshat. These portraits by Neshat, entitled Ghada and Sayed from her series Our House Is on Fire, were taken by Neshat after the Arab Spring and were given to the Museum in 2016 as part of the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation’s initiative to engage university students in cross-cultural discussion on gender and national identity.