Reality Revisited – Photography from the Moderna Museet collection
Photography from the Moderna Museet collection
9 May – 20 September, 2009
The second major photo exhibition at Moderna Museet this spring takes a look at the 1970s. More than 300 photos from the Moderna Museet collection cover major portfolios of work by photographers including Larry Clark, Duane Michals, Bill Owens, Eva Klasson, Anders Petersen, Arthur Tress and Melissa Shook.
Other photographers are represented by a smaller number of images, and the exhibition is complemented by selected works by forerunners who have inspired and influenced their work.
New York City, Speedy and Barb. From the Teenage Lust series, 1968
© Courtesy of the artist and Luhring Augustine, New York
The title of the exhibition alludes to the way photographers in the 1970s generally based their work on, or referred to, the reality they were living in. Many explored new ways of portraying real life – while others searched for ways of creating photos beyond the everyday. This exhibition reveals a progression from distinctly documentary projects in the early years of the decade, to the more subjective, surrealist-influenced or body-oriented subject matter towards the end of the1970s.
The “documentary” concept was central during this period. A fundamental aspect of the genre is a trust in photography as a possibility to portray reality objectively, and the camera’s potential to reveal hidden social injustices. However, this precept began to be called in question, and many of the issues that preoccupied photographers in the1970s are still being explored by contemporary practitioners: form and content, subjectivity and objectivity, art and politics.
All the featured photographers stem from the genre of classic black-and-white photography. Using different approaches, they applied the medium and developed their own styles of expression. After the Second World War, street photography and subjective photography experienced rising popularity, along with fashion photography. It became possible, again, to travel to the large cities, which grew into creative meeting places for the generation of photographers who embarked on their careers in the1960s and experienced a climax before postmodern photo-based art came to the fore in the early 1980s.
© Christer Strömholm/Stromholm Estate
May 30, 1973
© Melissa Shook
The history of how the collection was created helps to explain the strong focus on American and Swedish photography in this exhibition. In 1971, Fotografiska Museet was inaugurated as an independent department of Moderna Museet. Several study tours were made to the USA by the curators in the mid-70s, resulting in major exhibitions and acquisitions. Fotografiska Museet was fully integrated with Moderna Museet in 1998, which thus obtained a rich photographic treasure
Courtesy Moderna Museet
Images © Their respective owners