"Charles Sheeler from Doylestown to Detroit" celebrates the MFA
s unparalleled holdings of works by Charles Sheeler (18831965), presenting 40 photographs from three significant series created during the heyday of his career as a founder of American modernism. After enjoying success as a painter, Sheeler initially took up photography as a way to make a living. His experiments with the medium included the 1916-17 series of photographs capturing various elements of an 18th-century house he rented in Doylestown, Pennsylvania. The sequence of stark, geometric compositions was among the most abstract and avant-garde work being made in the US at the timecreated in response to the Cubist art of Picasso and Braque that Sheeler had previously encountered in Europe. In 1920, Sheeler collaborated with fellow photographer Paul Strand on the short film Manhatta, presenting dramatic views of lower Manhattan. Abstract stills from the 35mm film, which was shot from steep angles, are presented alongside larger prints of Sheelers cinematic images of New York City, produced shortly after Manhattawhich he used as source material for his paintings. The exhibition culminates with the 1927 photographs of the Ford Motor Company plant in River Rouge, Michigan, commissioned to celebrate the introduction of Fords Model A. The cathedral-like scenes convey an optimism for American industry, and are now considered icons of Machine Age photography. All of the photographs in the exhibition are drawn from the Museums Lane Collectionone of the finest private holdings of 20th-century American art in the world, including Sheelers entire photographic estategiven to the MFA in 2012. Presented with support from the Benjamin A. Trustman and Julia M. Trustman Fund.
Alfred Stieglitz and Modern America
Herb Ritts Gallery
July 22November 5, 2017
This exhibition presents a selection of the MFAs exceptional holdings of works by Alfred Stieglitz (18641946), the great American impresario of photography at the turn of the 20th century. Featuring 36 photographs, the exhibition showcases fine examples of his New York views, portraits and photographs that Stieglitz took at his familys country home at Lake George. The New York views reveal the artists lifelong interest in the urban city, from his early explorations of the picturesque effects of rain, snow and nightfall to later ones that focus on the inherent geometry of modernitys rising architectural structures. The portraits include 10 images from Stieglitzs magnificent extended series of images of his wife, the celebrated painter Georgia OKeeffea portrait in time that reflects his ideals of modern womanhood and is evocative of their close relationship. These portraits are accompanied by additional images of members of his family and friends. The Lake George photographs include, in addition to views of the family property, a sequence of the mystical cloud studies that Stieglitz called equivalents, which explore the interpretation of inner states of being. Many of the photographs on view were donated by Stieglitz to the MFA in 1924making it one of the first museums in the US to collect photography as fine art. Enhanced by an additional gift from OKeeffe in 1950, the MFAs Stieglitz holdings form an outstanding survey of the photographers career, as well as the cornerstone of the Museums photography collection. Presented with support from the Shelly and Michael Kassen Fund.