KANSAS CITY, MO.-
Homer Page, a brilliant but nearly forgotten photographic talent, will be reintroduced to the public when The Photographs of Homer Page: The Guggenheim Year, New York, 1949-50 opens Feb. 14 at The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art
The exhibition of rare vintage black-and-white prints, on view through June 7, will focus on the innovative work he produced in New York in 1949 and 1950, funded by a prestigious Guggenheim Fellowship.
These works are drawn from a total of about 100 prints by Page in the Museums Hallmark Photographic Collection, acquired by the Nelson-Atkins in 2006.
Because Page exhibited and sold very few of his works during his lifetime, he is underappreciated and largely unknown today. This exhibition marks an important first: this group of prints has never been publicly displayed.
Keith F. Davis, Curator of Photography at the Nelson-Atkins, first encountered Pages work while researching and writing the first edition of An American Century of Photography, published in 1995.
Davis, then Hallmark Fine Art Programs Director, recalls:. I came across a quote from Page that I found extremely interesting and insightful. Pages comments from a 1950 symposium at the Museum of Modern Art titled What is Modern Photography? revealed a deep understanding of the currents of documentary or what we might now call street photography of the day. The quote prompted Davis to search for Pages photographs, leading to an exciting discovery of a lost photographic treasure. He was soon in touch with the Page estate and ended up purchasing about 100 prints for the Hallmark collection, including many that were one of a kind.
Page captured both the facts and the feeling of life in post-war New York: commuters in transit to and from their offices, the signs of commercial and consumer culture, leisure pursuits and night life, psychological vignettes of the lonely and dispossessed. His work provides a rich and original vision of 1949 America.
Page was devoted to the visible facts of his world, but his real goal was something much deeper: the emotional tenor of life at that time and that place. This is a body of work of great passion, intelligence, and artistic integrity -- one that is all the more important for having remained essentially unknown to the present day, Davis said.