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Transformations: American Photographs from the 1970s

January 27–July 7, 2024

The 1970s witnessed an unprecedented explosion of interest and activity around photography, and was a hub for wildly varying conceptions of what photography could look like, how it could be used, and what it could stand for. On one hand, the 1970s were an apex of traditional black and white darkroom photography, as artists who had worked in relative obscurity were suddenly thrust into the spotlight. But it was also the end of an era, as younger photographers began experimenting with mediums, formats, and conceptual approaches that defied established modes of photographic art.

Some artists made deeply personal works that included crafts like embroidery and collage, historical processes like cyanotype, or new technologies such as the Teleprinter, an early version of the fax machine. Other photographers, including William Eggleston and Joel Meyerowitz, created images that recalled the spontaneity, humor, and saturated color of vernacular snapshots. Mikki Ferrill and Susan Meiselas spent years producing series of intimate portraits that forged connections between photography and the growing Black Arts and Feminist movements. And conceptual artists such as Martha Rosler interrogated photography’s association with advertising and systems of visual representation, even branching out to explore the new medium of video. This exhibition offers an exciting overview of this diverse and energetic era.

Main Building


Molly Kalkstein, Horace W. Goldsmith Curatorial Fellow in Photography

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