Dec 26, 2005

Shadow Dancing-Shedding light on old photos

Source: Phoenix New Times
Written By Leanne Potts

“Keeping Shadows: Photography From the Worcester Museum of Art” Photos lie. You knew that.

What you probably didn’t know is that photos were lying more than a century before Photoshop became a verb. Photographers were mucking with their images way back in the 19th century when the medium was still young, painting or scratching out pesky objects and faces they didn’t want in their image.

That’s one of the more remarkable revelations in “Keeping Shadows,” an exhibition on the history of photography currently at the Phoenix Art Museum. Drawn from the collection of Massachusetts’ Worcester Museum of Art, “Shadows” features more than 100 images ranging from 19th-century daguerreotypes to 21st-century photos from NASA space probes. There’s work by big-deal photographers like Henri Cartier-Bresson, Robert Mapplethorpe, Cindy Sherman, Cecil Beaton, and Ansel Adams, but this is more than a greatest-hits compilation. “Shadows” explores our relationship with photography by showing how the medium, and our perception of it, has evolved during the past century and a half.

Since the days of daguerreotypes, we’ve been unsure of how to regard these amazing bits of captured light and shadow. Are photos infallible depictions of reality, or fabrications that cannot be trusted? Middlebrow hobby for the Kodak point-and-shoot set or high art? Or is photography a magical hypervision that shows us parts of the world our eyes miss?

Keeping Shadows: Photography From the Worcester Museum of Art

More than 100 images by various photographers spanning 1845 through 2001 and drawn from one of the nation’s finest photographic collections. Continues through March 12. Admission is $9 for adults, $7 for students and seniors. Call 602-257-1222 or go to »web link.

Phoenix Art Museum
1625 North Central Avenue

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