The Trustees and deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum
announce the fall opening of Photosynthesis, a museum-wide celebration and examination of photography spanning a range of topics and artists. On view through March 29, 2020, Photosynthesis is comprised of three separate shows, featuring works drawn from deCordova's permanent collection along with loans from artists and private collectors.
All of deCordovas galleries are being devoted to photography during this duration, honoring the Museums strong history of supporting the photographic arts. All the Marvelous Surfaces: Photography Since Karl Blossfeldt explores the impact of Blossfeldts acclaimed 1920s series Art Forms in Nature on present-day approaches to ornamentation, scale, and abstraction. Peter Hutchinson: Landscapes of My Life offers visitors a rare opportunity to view photographs and photo-collages by an under-recognized pioneer of Land Art. Truthiness and the News examines the evidentiary role of photography from the first half of the twentieth century to the current age of post-truth politics.
We are excited to present three timely exhibitions that unite photographys expansive capacity for artistic expression and engagement with urgent contemporary issues, says Sarah Montross, Senior Curator. Photography is often considered the most democratic artistic mediuma form of imagery that we all use and absorb daily but may not have time to question and appreciate. These shows blur the lines between nature and art, fact and fiction, and reveal photographys potency in shaping perception of the world around us.
Photography has long benefitted from assumptions that it faithfully documents our world. The mediums supposed neutrality is particularly unquestioned when used for scientific study or journalistic purposes. Upending these assumptions, Photosynthesis encompasses a suite of exhibitions at deCordova spanning diverse topics from botanical design to Land Art, news reportage to photo-conceptualismfields that have relied on photographys ability to zoom, crop, and manipulate objects of study to provide detailed visual evidence. The three exhibitions that form Photosynthesis look back to photographys origins and foundational artists and photojournalists to contextualize contemporary notions of nature, photography, and truth.
All the Marvelous Surfaces: Photography Since Karl Blossfeldt
This group exhibition is inspired by German photographer Karl Blossfeldts acclaimed Art Forms in Nature (1928), a collection of magnified plant specimens that immediately enthralled viewers with exquisite details of curling flower petals and the fractal growth of leaves. All the Marvelous Surfaces reorients photography through Blossfeldts focus on patterning, scale, and surface detail, establishing his impact on the evolution of modern and contemporary photographic practices. The show delves into issues such as biases against ornamentation, the rise of surrealist estrangement, and the intersections of photography and sculpture throughout the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Drawn mainly from deCordovas permanent collection, the artists range from mid-century icons such as Aaron Siskind and Harold Edgerton to contemporary figures who are advancing the photographic medium today, including Ellen Carey, Matt Saunders, and Erin Shirreff.
Peter Hutchinson: Landscapes of My Life
Since the late 1960s, Peter Hutchinson has explored the construction of nature and language through his photographs, collages, and films. He focuses on ecological systems of growth and decay, continuities between microscopic and macro scales, and the reciprocal relationships of text and image. This exhibition, the first museum survey of Hutchinsons work in the United States in decades, traces his photographic practice across fifty years, beginning with documentation of seminal land art installations staged in diverse locations, from the rim of a Mexican volcano to the waters of Cape Cod. The show introduces Hutchinsons original approach to photo-conceptualism called Narrative Art, revealing his understated, playful wit and prioritization of subjective experience. Recent works on view underscore his poetic appreciation of nature through photo-collages of fantastical landscapes that combine images from his extensive world travels and beloved garden in Provincetown, MA.
Truthiness and the News
This exhibition explores the evidentiary role of photography, from the heyday of newsprint in the first half of the twentieth century to the current age of post-truth politics. For decades before the current discussions of truthiness and fake news, press photographs offered viewers a multiplicity of truths depending on how editors printed them. Featuring works from the 1940s to the present, Truthiness in the News highlights photojournalists and socially engaged photographers, such as Charles Teenie Harris and Barbara Norfleet, alongside spreads from the newspapers and magazines that published their photographs, and contemporary works responding to the dissemination of the news today. Displaying lush photographs of current events as art next to the same images presented as news offers rich insights into the way photography informs our politics and beliefs.