This fall the Princeton University Art Museum presents Clarence H. White and His World: The Art and Craft of Photography, 1895–1925 (October 7, 2017 – January 7, 2018), recently named by Artnet as one of the most important exhibitions in the world this season. The first retrospective in over a generation devoted to this influential photographer and teacher, long revered for his moody outdoor scenes and quiet images of domestic life, the exhibition offers a new appraisal of White’s contributions, including his groundbreaking aesthetic experiments, his commitment to the ideals of American socialism, and his embrace of the expanding fields of fashion illustration, celebrity portraiture, and advertising.
White’s career spanned the turbulent era from the Gilded Age through the beginnings of modernism to the Roaring Twenties. His early work in Ohio shared with the nascent Arts and Crafts movement the advocacy of hand production, closeness to nature, and the simple life. His involvement with Alfred Stieglitz and the Photo-Secession and his move to New York in 1906 marked a shift in his production, which grew to encompass commercial portraiture and an increasing commitment to teaching that ultimately led him to establish the first institutions in America to combine instruction for both technical and aesthetic aspects of photography.
Drawing upon the Museum’s rich holdings of White’s work, as well as those of the Library of Congress and other lenders, this landmark exhibition expands our understanding of early twentieth-century American photography.
Rouge: Michael Kenna (October 14, 2017–January 28, 2018) showcases the work of British photographer Michael Kenna, one of the most important landscape photographers of our time. Kenna is best known for his lyrical black-and-white images made under natural light conditions — often at dawn or dusk or in long exposures at night — and his work with industrial and post-industrial landscapes is among his most sustained investigations.
His photographs of the Rouge plant in Dearborn, Michigan—once the most advanced factory in the world and an icon of American industrial achievement—were made beginning in 1992, and the exhibition presents a range of images that speak to what Kenna has called the “memories, traces, and evidence of our human activities” at this once vital site.
Making History Visible: Of American Myths and National Heroes (September 26, 2017–January 14, 2018) draws together historical and contemporary works to consider the role of visual art in creating an image of American identity and a multifaceted representation of history in the United States. Early American artists set out to amplify the heroism and standing of the nation’s political leaders by representing them in the same ways that prominent figures from European history had been depicted since antiquity. In response to such iconic, almost mythical depictions, works by contemporary artists including Titus Kaphar, Faith Ringgold, and Kara Walker engage with genres and mediums of art history to reveal and respond to the cultural values, racial hierarchies, and historical narratives that can be promoted through these representations.
Princeton University Art Museum. Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Thursday to 9 p.m.; Sunday noon to 5 p.m. Free. artmuseum.princeton.edu.