Locating Place: Perceptions of Space in 20th Century Photography

March 9, 2012 - June 9, 2012
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Locating Place: Perceptions of Space in 20th Century Photography


It is somewhat of truism to say that the environment bears the imprint of human thought and action. The expansive vistas of cultivated land, the towering high-rises of large metropolitan centers and the adjacent sprawl of suburbia all demonstrate our impact on the places we inhabit. But our relationship to place is not one-sided. Places help shape our identity and how we exist in, engage with and think about the world. They offer insight on our culture and society--the various hopes, dreams, preoccupations that underlie our endeavors.

The exhibition Locating Place: Perceptions of Space in 20th Century Photography will explore the intimate connection that exists between people and places. Spanning the entire twentieth century, the diverse selection of photographs featured in the exhibition will touch upon topics ranging from the representation of interior states of mind to the impact of human presence on the natural environment.

Josef Sudek’s mist-shrouded gardens and fragmented glimpses of empty city streets can be interpreted as private reveries--manifestations of emotions and reactions to his beloved Prague--rather than mere records of a geographic location. Kenneth Josephson layers pictures within pictures to create clever but patently artificial illusions that acknowledge the subjective nature of vision. Toshio Shibata’s portraits of man-made structures on the other hand explore the conflict between natural forces and mankind’s attempts to contain them by eliminating spatial cues and replacing them with more abstract compositions dominated by patterns and textures.

The fifty-five plus photographs in the exhibition are pulled from the Figge’s collection of photographs as well as loans from the University of Iowa Museum of Art and a private collection. Many of the works from the Figge collection are recent gifts and have never been viewed by the public. Included is a large number of photographs from the Sikkema Collection that was established in 2007 by a donation of 84 photographs by Brent Sikkema of Sikkema, Jenkins and Co. Since then, two more gifts of 70 works have supplemented the collection. These generous donationshave greatly enhanced the museum’s photography holdings and allowed the Figge to feature more photography in its exhibitions.

This exhibition will be on view March 10-June 10, 2012
Sponsored by Hunt and Diane Harris


images: Clarence John Laughlin, Untitled (spiral staircase), 1949 or 1979, ferrotyped gelatin silver print, gift of Brent Sikkema, 2008.005.36, © The Historic New Orleans Collection

Joseph Sudek, Still Life, n.d., gelatin silver contact print, gift of Brent Sikkema, 2009.0006.012

Eliot Porter, Eagle’s Nest, New Mexico, 1949, gelatin silver print, gift of Brent Sikkema, 2008.0005.39, ©1990 Amon Carter Museum of American Art, Fort Worth, Texas


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