Return to Previous Page

Max Ernst
Max Ernst, 1946
Frederick Sommer, American, 1905–1999
Gelatin silver print
Collection of D.W. Mellor
Frederick Sommer Photographs
October 3, 2009 - January 3, 2010
Over his long life Frederick Sommer (American, 1905–1999) crafted a body of art inflected by surrealist ideas and distinguished by his meticulous love for the art of photographic printing, his broad knowledge of art history, and a keen sense of how the parts of a picture come together to produce meaning. This exhibition surveys five decades of his photography, including disorienting compositions such as Arizona Landscape (1943), a horizonless image that only gradually resolves its components into a desolate desert scene, and equally bewildering subjects such as Max Ernst (1946), in which Sommer experimented with layered negatives, superimposing an image of a rock onto a portrait of the pioneering Dada and surrealist artist to create the illusion of a human morphing into rock.

The first exhibition of Sommer’s work in Philadelphia since 1968, Frederick Sommer Photographs presents some forty images spanning the artist’s career, along with a small number of drawings and collages. Included is a rare suite of macabre yet poignant photographs the artist made in 1939 using chicken parts collected from his local butcher.


Peter Barberie • The Brodsky Curator of Photographs, Alfred Stieglitz Center
Julia Dolan • The Horace W. Goldsmith Curatorial Fellow in Photography


Stieglitz Gallery, ground floor

Return to Previous Page