The Fort Worth Amon Carter Museum’s “American Photography 1845 to Now” displays a wide array of historic photos in both black and white and color. The exhibit has everything from 1940 Daguerreotype photography to the present inkjet print photography, which helps people learn the history of photography as well as how it’s evolved through capturing America’s history from 1845 until now.
The title “American Photography 1845 to Now” establishes that the 70 pieces that are within the exhibit are scattered throughout American history. The first one being a portrait of the daughter of Eli Whitney, the intervenor of the cotton gin and the last one a depiction of a modern-day twilight in a trailer park. “This exhibition surveys the history of American photography from its earliest days to the present” (Amon Carter Museum of American Art). Photography grew up with American through the industrial age and into the modern age capturing many diverse styles and events over the decades. I think the title American fits the collect really well because it’s such a diverse collection that really isn’t the most unified with all the different styles and subject matter. “Rather than present a single, unified narrative, these works offer a glance at the people and places that define the country through the history of an ever-evolving medium” (Amon Carter Musuem of American Art).
The works of the exhibit are displayed across two rooms. The first room being the more historic artwork and the second room displaying more modern day artwork. On each wall the pictures tend to be grouped by their medium or subject matter. The artwork was most likely displayed in the way the installer thought best since the exhibit opened in 2016 and some of the work dates back to the 1840s. The installer most likely looked for certain contrasts and comparisons between the styles and subject matter.
One piece or wall section that really stood out to me were these three gelatin silver prints paired together. One was taken in New York in 1942, and portrayed a mother reaching into a baby carriage with a baby looking toward the camera laughing with his head titled back. The middle one taken in the 1970s showing three young women partying in a crowd. The girl in the center had her hands waving in the air with her head titled back laughing. The last one taken in Chelsea, Massachusetts in 1981 showed kids playing on the street and the one boy held at ‘gun point’ had his head titled back laughing that he had been caught. They caught my eye because each was so different but they worked together because they each had a person in the center laughing with their head titled back. Each photo had its own techniques too. The first one used leading lines of the street to lead the eyes to the baby carriage as well as rule of thirds, and dominant eye with the baby. The second one used the rule of thirds with each girl being in a different third and the two girls on the outside used framing to frame the girl in the center. The third one used leading lines from all the sticks and outstretched hands pointing at their prisoner and also framing him in the center of the picture. Plus each picture slowly filled with more people starting with 2, then 3-5, to 7. I really thought a lot of though went into that wall with the similarities and the contrasts of those three pictures so it stood out to me. While I did like these photos I don’t need to have them in my house because I didn’t feel the special spark I did with this next one.
The other big stand out to me was a giant inkjet print from 2007 of a girl sitting on a swing in the middle of a trailer park. I love the detail of this photo from the grass to the trailer to the woods, yet the girl still holds your attention. The picture uses rule of thirds with the background but the most important element is the lighting in this picture. “The twilight as a magical time in which the reality visible in the daylight gives way to the uncertainties of night” (Amon Carter Museum of American Art). When I first glanced at the painting the girl looks like she’s swinging right out of the picture and the trees looked like they were swishing in the wind. It felt like a moment out of the twilight zone with the picture suddenly coming to life. Even my mother thought she saw the same thing when I mentioned this instance to her. I think the quality of photo really shows how Crewdson works like “a movie director” that “constructs scenes that reflect and settle visions of everyday life” (Amon Carter Museum of American Art). I’d definitely take this piece home because I really loved detail photography and to see if the photo tricks all of my house guests as well.
- Photography. American Photography 1845 to Now, Amon Carter Museum of American Art.
Crewdson, Gregory. Untitled (Trailer Park). 2007. Inkjet print. American Photography 1845 to Now, Amon Carter Museum of American Art.
Levin, Helen. New York. 1942. Gelatin silver print. American Photography 1845 to Now, Amon Carter Museum of American Art.
Nixon, Nicholas. Chelsea, Massachusetts. 1981. Gelatin silver print. American Photography 1845 to Now, Amon Carter Museum of American Art.
Winogrand, Gary. Untitled. 1970. Gelatin silver print. American Photography 1845 to Now, Amon Carter Museum of American Art.