The foundations of modern photography are examined and reconsidered in “Photo Eye: Avant-Garde Photography in Europe,” an exhibition opening March 15 at the Museum of Fine Arts. The exhibition features photographs associated with major artistic movements in the 20th century, such as Cubism, Constructivism, Dadaism, and Surrealism, and includes works by Constantin Brancusi, Ilse Bing, André Kertész, Man Ray, László Moholy-Nagy, and Josef Sudek.
“[The exhibition] shows an incredible time in the history of photography, as artists [were] using innovative and unconventional points of view,” Yousuf and Estrellita Karsh Assistant Curator of Photographs Kristen Gresh says.“There was an important shift in photography after World War I. It’s a moment that contributed to transforming photographic expression for the entire 20th century. People had hand-held cameras for the first time and [were] experimenting.”
Although several artistic movements are featured in “Photo Eye,” the exhibition is united by the theme of groundbreaking photographic styles. “We have urban scenes, innovative still lifes, portraits, and such,” Gresh says. “There is a variety of types, but the underlying theme is new ways of photographing. Throughout those themes, we can see that photographers are seeking to capture modern life through different techniques, different points of views, and surprising aspects with light.”
According to Gresh, “Photo Eye” is an excellent introduction to the lasting legacy of photography in the early 20th century. “I hope that the public will really see the visual innovation and realize the great amount of things that were being produced. This was a hugely influential time that laid the foundation for photography for the whole century. I hope people will see that and enjoy the wonderful images that were very new for the time, and still feel new now.”