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The Best of Photography and Film from the George Eastman House Collection Opens at Frist Center
Dr. Harold E. Edgerton (American 1903-1990). Shooting the Apple, 1964 [.30 Bullet Piercing an Apple. A Microsecond Exposure of a Bullet Traveling 2800 Feet per Second] Color print, dye transfer process. Credit: Copyright Harold and Esther Edgerton Foundation, courtesy George Eastman House.
NASHVILLE, TN.— The Frist Center for the Visual Arts will open The Best of Photography and Film from the George Eastman House Collection Friday, Oct. 10, 2008. The exhibition will feature more than 200 iconic photographs, films and film-related materials selected from the world-renowned collection of George Eastman House International Museum of Photography and Film in Rochester, New York. The Best of Photography and Film will be on view through Jan. 25, 2009.

Since its inception, photography has developed its potential as both a documentary and fine arts medium. The Best of Photography and Film includes works that range from the aesthetic images of Julia Margaret Cameron (1815–1879) and Edward Weston (1886–1958) to the gripping documents of Dorothea Lange (1895–1965) and Robert Frank (b. 1924). The exhibition also features works by photographers who have pushed the technical boundaries of the medium. Examples of early motion pictures highlight the achievements of a continually developing technology and the evolving creativity of their makers—two aspects that have made film one of the most popular mediums of our times.

“This exhibition truly is a ‘greatest hits’ of photography’s nearly 170-year history. While the Frist Center has presented many monographic photography shows in our Gordon Contemporary Artists Project gallery and more narrowly focused exhibitions such as Reflections in Black and The Pulitzer Prize Photographs, this is the first time the Frist Center has presented a broad overview of the medium,” says Katie Delmez, curator at the Frist Center. “The exhibition should appeal to a wide audience because both photography and film are very accessible and familiar to most people. And, interestingly, photography is such a pervasive art form largely because of Mr. George Eastman—the father of popular photography—and his inventions.”

The Best of Photography and Film is organized into numerous sections including the early years of the medium, portraiture, photography and war, photography as fine art, social commentary, Modernism and more.

Early highlights of the photographs selected from the Eastman House collection include several daguerreotypes; Mathew Brady’s Portrait of Abraham Lincoln (1860); the first photograph of lightning by William Jennings and a salted paper print by William Henry Fox Talbot. In addition, later iconic images such as Alfred Stieglitz’s The Steerage (1907), Edward Weston’s Pepper No. 30 (1930) and Ansel Adams’s Moonrise Hernandez (1941) are featured.

The exhibition showcases variations of several well-known works, such as Lewis Wickes Hine’s Power House Mechanic (1920) alongside the other “runners up” who posed for Hine in the same set-up, but were not the final choice; Edward Steichen’s famous portrait of Paul Robeson, in which the subject appears stern, alongside an image from the same shoot where Robeson is laughing; and two photographs of Dorothea Lange’s Migrant Mother (1936), as evidence that edits were made by the photographer to her most celebrated image.

Film clips from the George Eastman House archives, many of which were restored by Eastman House, include Peter Pan (1924), The Lost World (1925), The Phantom of the Opera (1925) and The Fall of the House of Usher (1928). Other motion picture items on view will include publicity stills, posters and many celebrity portraits of greats such as Greta Garbo, Elizabeth Taylor, Spencer Tracy and James Stewart.

George Eastman House is the world’s oldest and largest photography and film museum, founded in 1947 and housed on the 12-acre estate of Kodak founder, George Eastman. The museum holds in its archives 400,000 photographs representing 14,000 photographers; 16,000 pieces of camera technology, including the world’s largest collection of American cameras; 25,000 film titles, making it one of the four largest film archives in the United States and more than 3 million motion picture artifacts, including publicity stills, scripts, scores and posters.

The Best of Photography and Film from the George Eastman House Collection was organized by George Eastman House International Museum of Photography and Film.

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