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Artificial Light: Flash Photography in the Twentieth Century
May 24, 2014 - August 3, 2014
Untitled (girls' faces flashed in bus window)
Untitled (girls' faces flashed in bus window), 1973
Mark Cohen, American
Gelatin silver print
Image: 11 13/16 x 17 5/8 inches (30 x 44.8 cm) Sheet: 15 7/8 x 19 13/16 inches (40.3 x 50.3 cm)
Purchased with the Lynne and Harold Honickman Fund for Photography, 2011
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Artificial Light: Flash Photography in the Twentieth Century
May 24, 2014 - August 3, 2014
Explore diverse examples of flash photography, which gained widespread use in the 1920s with the invention of the mass-produced flashbulb. Hailed by many photographers for its ability to capture action and movement, flash aided in scientific pursuits including Harold Edgerton’s high-speed, stop-action prints and Berenice Abbott's photographic illustrations of scientific principles. Flash also played an important role in journalistic and documentary work, as reflected in images by Russell Lee, Lucy Ashjian, Lisette Model, and Gordon Parks.

The garish, otherworldly, and oddly captivating look of flash pictures—as seen in the tabloid press and amateur family snapshots—was embraced by many artists, including Mark Cohen, William Eggleston, and William Klein. In this exhibition, see their work alongside portraits by Richard Avedon, Lee Friedlander, Sarah Stolfa, and Robert Mapplethorpe, candid explorations by Daido Moriyama, Nicholas Nixon, and Weegee, and a selection of Polaroids by Andy Warhol.

Exhibition Minutes

Artist Sarah Stolfa on the Power of Flash Photography
Photographer Sarah Stolfa explains how flash was essential in the creation of her portrait series The Regulars. Taken while she tended bar at McGlinchey’s, the intimate pictures capture regular patrons alone in the dimly lit “everyman’s bar.” Her portrait of William Spearing is prominently featured in the exhibition Artificial Light: Flash Photography in the Twentieth Century. Watch Video >>

Look at examples of flash photography from this exhibition.
View Slideshow >>


Amanda Bock, Project Assistant Curator


Honickman Gallery, ground floor

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