This summer the Bowdoin College Museum of Art
will present Winslow Homer and the Camera: Photography and the Art of Painting, the first exhibition to look at the role of photography in Homers artistic practice. On view June 23 through October 28, 2018, Winslow Homer and the Camera brings together over 130 objects by the artist across all media, ranging from master paintings to oil studies, drawings, prints, and photographs created in the United States and during his travels to Europe and the Caribbean. This comprehensive survey was inspired by the BCMAs 2013 acquisition of a camera once owned by Homer and presents new research drawn in part from the museums extensive collection of works by the artist.
Curated by co-director Frank H. Goodyear III and Bowdoin art history professor Dana E. Byrd, the exhibition will present a full picture of the artists working methods and will include noteworthy archival objects, such as three wooden mannequins, his palette and watercolor brushes, his walking stick and fishing net, and two of the three cameras he owned in his lifetime. Homer acquired his first cameras during a two-year sojourn abroad in England, a trip he took in his mid-40s seeking a new direction in his art. Upon his return in 1882, scholars noted a demonstrable change in his style of painting and choice of subjects. Taking this shift and the artists penchant for experimentation across media as a point of departure, Winslow Homer and the Camera questions how new visual technology impacted the artists production and engagement with subjects and unveils how photography increasingly became a part of Homers visual investigation and broader creative practice.
We are thrilled to present Winslow Homer and the Camera this June, said Frank Goodyear, co-director and organizer of the exhibition, Since the generous gift of Homers camera and photographs, my colleague Dana Byrd and I have been deeply engaged in understanding how Homers interest in photography influenced his own artistic identity. This exhibition allows us to consider how Homers experimentation with photography solidifies the artist as a protomodern figure, anticipating many of the trends and concerns of the artists who followed.
The opportunity to examine Homer, a well-loved and well-researched figure of American art, anew, has been so rewarding, said Dana E. Byrd. Utilizing the Museums extensive collection of the artists work, Frank and I have uncovered a new facet of Homers celebrated oeuvre and we hope this pioneering framework will lead to continued revelations of how the iconic painter engaged with the modern world.
While Winslow Homer and the Camera: Photography and the Art of Painting draws principally from the BCMAs Winslow Homer Collection, the exhibition will also feature works on loan from 25 institutions and collectors from across the United States. Following its presentation at the BCMA, the exhibition will travel to the Brandywine River Museum of Art in Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania. Museum director Thomas Padon noted, Homer defined the look of America in the second half of the 19th century and is central to key artists in our collection, which gives the exhibition particular resonance here at Brandywine.
An illustrated catalogue of the same title authored by co-curators Dana E. Byrd and Frank H. Goodyear and published by Yale University Press will accompany the exhibition. The catalogue will serve as a significant contribution to the study of Winslow Homer and the cross-disciplinary study of painters and photography in American art.