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Exhibition documents transformative moments of the twentieth century
Arthur Rothstein (American, 1915-1985), Dust Storm, Cimarron County, Oklahoma, 1936, printed later Gelatin silver print, h. 10 1/2 in. (26.7 cm); w. 13 in. (33 cm) San Antonio Museum of Art, gift of Ernest Pomerantz and Marie Brenner, 2016.26.153. © Arthur Rothstein, Library of Congress.

SAN ANTONIO, TX.- The San Antonio Museum of Art opened the special exhibition Capturing the Moment: Photographs from the Marie Brenner and Ernest Pomerantz Collection on February 22. The exhibition celebrates the gift of more than 850 photographs from collectors Marie Brenner and Ernest Pomerantz. The works in the exhibition date from the 1920s to the 1970s and track transformative events including The Great Depression, World War II, and the Civil Rights Movement.

Capturing the Moment features more than 70 primarily black-and-white photographs drawn from the Brenner and Pomerantz gift, as well as a selection of films. The exhibition is divided into three sections: People; War and Conflict; and Landscapes, both rural and urban. Within each area, the show explores the development and application of different styles and approaches— from documentary photography and photojournalism to street photography—and highlights the technological advances, socio-political upheavals, and cultural influences that spurred the era’s artistic innovation.

“Looking at the important decades covered in Capturing the Moment, we can trace how photography transformed the way we see art, the world we inhabit, and ourselves,” said Brown Foundation Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art and exhibition curator Suzanne Weaver. “Driven by technological innovations and a desire to bear witness to some of the tumultuous events of the twentieth century, photography as an art form also influenced the purposes, goals, and priorities of artists themselves.”

Among the artists whose work is included in the exhibition are Dmitri Baltermants, Ilse Bing, Paul Caponigro, Henri Cartier-Bresson, W.E. Dassonville, Mike Disfarmer, Leonard Freed, Danny Lyon, Joel Meyerowitz, Arthur Rothstein, Stephen Shore, and Louis Clyde Stoumen. The work of many of these photographers was informed by changes in camera technology, such as the introduction in 1924 of the lightweight Leica 35mm camera. These very portable cameras made it possible for photographers to enter any landscape and document events—capturing what the photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson termed the “decisive moment,” that split second that reveals a subject’s larger truth.

Along with exploring aesthetic approaches in photography, this exhibition and supplementary programming explores important relationships between technology and photographic practices; film and photography; and connoisseurship, collecting, and preservation. Films will be presented by the artists Henri Cartier-Bresson, Henry Horenstein, Danny Lyon, and Anri Sala, and the exhibition will be complemented by lectures and workshops. Curated by Suzanne Weaver, the Museum’s Brown Foundation Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art, with support from Assistant Curator Lana Meador, Capturing the Moment: Photographs from the Marie Brenner and Ernest Pomerantz Collection runs through May 12, 2019.

“We are so grateful to Marie Brenner and Ernest Pomerantz for their generosity and for sharing our appreciation for photography as a medium that speaks to all audiences,” said Kelso Director Katie Luber.

The gift from Marie Brenner and Ernest Pomerantz is the third major photography gift to the San Antonio Museum of Art in recent years. In 2017, the Museum announced that it had received 31 portraits from noted American photographer Timothy Greenfield-Sanders’s Latino List series, given by art dealer and collector Hiram Butler. And in early 2018, philanthropist and art collector Christian Keesee donated 50 works by Brett Weston from 1940–1985.

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