Iconic American landscapes, scenes of daily life from interwar Europe, and experimental, abstract impressions of both the natural and manmade worlds are among the subjects found in the National Gallery of Ireland
s latest exhibition, Moment in Time: A Legacy of Photographs | Works from the Bank of America Collection, which opened on Saturday, 30 November 2019. The exhibition draws on Bank of Americas extensive private collection, which is one of the largest corporate holdings of photography in the world. This is the first time that the exhibition travels to Europe.
Featuring almost 120 works from photographers including Ansel Adams, Brassaï, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Dorothea Lange, and Man Ray, the exhibition places a special emphasis on works created between the mid-nineteenth to the mid-twentieth century, and offers a survey of the full range of the photographic medium from that period. Works are arranged according to a number of overlapping themes, namely: art photography; people; documentary; urban and nature.
The collection from which Moment in Time is drawn was originally assembled in the 1960s by collectors, scholars and historians, Beaumont and Nancy Newhall, who put together a core collection of photographs covering the entire history of the medium. Both Nancy and Beaumont Newhall were well-versed in writing about photography and curating photographic exhibitions in the years leading up to their role as collectors for the Exchange National Bank, Chicago, a legacy Bank of America institution. In fact, Beaumont Newhall was the first curator of photography at The Museum of Modern Art in New York (MoMA), where he organised a landmark 1937 retrospective of photographys first century, helping to bolster its position as a legitimate art form. In collaboration with several of the photographers they collected for the Bank, the Newhalls are credited with the creation of the preeminent photography journal, Aperture.
The collection has since grown in its depth and breadth, with the Newhalls connoisseurship maintained by subsequent curators within Bank of America, leading to an extensive collection of works. Highlights of the current exhibition include Brassais Couple au bal musette des Quatre-Saisons, Rue de Lappe, 1932, which evokes the essence of the interwar period in Paris. Meanwhile, Barbara Morgans The Dancers: Martha Graham in Letter to the World demonstrates the technical capability of photography to render shape, form, texture and movement.
The exhibition is curated by the National Gallery of Irelands Curator of Prints and Drawings, Anne Hodge and Curatorial Fellow, Sarah McAuliffe. Commenting, Ms Hodge said: The images on display by American and European photographers show how radically different compositions can be achieved using a camera. Some are iconic, others less well known but all are striking, intriguing, powerful or moving. From abstract still life to compelling social documentary and much more in between, Moment in Time captures the wide-ranging nature of the medium. As a curator, I feel privileged to have had the opportunity to hang this superb exhibition in the National Gallery of Ireland. Sarah and I enjoyed making decisions on which works should hang side by side, creating interesting juxtapositions that I hope viewers will enjoy. I encourage all those with an interest in photography to visit this exhibition it will give insight into how photography has developed over the decades and how it has affected how we see the world.
Co-curator Ms McAuliffe said: In an age where photography is omnipresent in our lives, and accessible to so many of us, this exhibition represents a wonderful opportunity to better understand its history. It demonstrates the way in which techniques have evolved over the last 180 years, from the age of Fox Talbots calotype through to the analogue tradition of the twentieth century.
Director of the National Gallery of Ireland, Sean Rainbird added: We are delighted to work with Bank of America on this exhibition, and to be the first institution in Europe to display works from this prestigious collection. Moment in Time is the latest activity in an ongoing partnership between the National Gallery of Ireland and Bank of America. With the support of Bank of America, we have been able to return the universally popular and historically important work, The Marriage of Strongbow and Aoife by Daniel Maclise to permanent display, following an extensive period of conservation and research. Through the awarding of funding last year, our partnership has also facilitated the conservation of The Visit of the Queen of Sheba to King Solomon by Lavinia Fontana. I would encourage everyone to reap the rewards of this latest iteration of our partnership with Bank of America, to visit Moment in Time and see a diverse and arresting range of images that they likely would not otherwise be able to view and enjoy.
Moment in Time is part of Bank of Americas Art in our Communities Programme, providing museums and galleries worldwide the opportunity to borrow complete exhibitions from Bank of Americas Art Collection. Andrea Sullivan, International Executive Global Environmental, Social & Governance at Bank of America said: We are delighted to lend our Moment in Time exhibition to the National Gallery of Ireland. We wholeheartedly believe in the power of the arts to help economies thrive, educate and enrich societies and are so pleased to count the gallery as one of our most important and longstanding partners.