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Artificial Light: Flash Photography in the Twentieth Century

May 24–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.

Artist Sarah Stolfa on the Power of Flash Photography

Main Building


Amanda Bock, Project Assistant Curator

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