Photography has an exceptional capacity for documenting and, at times, even defining space. As such, the history of architectural photography is particularly rich. Buildings were actually among the first photographic subjects in the 1840s—their still and solid presence was perfectly suited to the long exposure times required by the earliest processes. Photographs quickly took the place of drawings in relaying information about a building’s style, construction, and details of appearance, whether across time or space. Architectural photography has taught viewers about foreign cultures, preserved a record of structures and neighborhoods long-since demolished, made the reputations of star architects and iconic buildings, and helped to shape a sense of the modern environment.
The photographs in this exhibition—by Bernd and Hilla Becher, Markus Brunetti, Walker Evans, Frank Gohlke, Todd Hido, Philip Jameson, Justin Kimball, Arthur Rothstein, and Robert von Sternberg—are drawn from the permanent collection of the David Winton Bell Gallery, which contains strong holdings in photography, with depth in twentieth-century American works. Over the past decade, the Gallery has built upon these holdings, focusing on images created since the turn of the century. A concerted effort was made to collect representations that form a dialogue with the more historic material in the collection. This is the first in a series of three installation to be mounted over the coming year that will highlight recent gifts and purchases of photography.