With the debut of a new surrealist photography exhibit, Wegman’s Weimaraners now have to share space with their artistic ancestors at the Museum of Art.
On September 6, the Bowdoin College Museum of Art opened “Making a Presence: F. Holland Day in Artistic History,” chronicling the life and work of Boston photographer Fred Holland Day.
Organized by the Addison Gallery of American Art at Philips Academy in Andover, Mass., the exhibit presents Day’s self-portraits alongside images taken of him by his contemporaries. Curator Trevor Fairbrother organized the exhibit to have a dual focus on the artist’s work and his personal history.
As a photographer, Day was intent on translating spiritual elements of the world into visual reality through the use of the camera, a relatively new mechanical device.
“Day raised questions and themes though his work that weren’t made open or even spoken about until the 1980’s art scene,” said museum curator Joachim Homann.
Though Day was a pioneer in artistic photography—one of the first to approach the medium as a fine art—his work and influence remain relatively unknown. Homann believes that this exhibit will help show how Day used photography, a revolutionary medium, to create a new artistic form.
“It is important for students to see what a struggle it was to turn photography into art,” said Homann.
Photography was not seen as a true art form even through the early 1900s. Day was among the first to promote the idea that a photographer’s vision of a photo is just as important as the subject. It was the combination of these aspects, he argued, that allowed photography to rival other forms of two-dimensional art.
The portraiture presented in “Making a Presence” shows Day’s attempt to highlight various forms of photography and his effort to question the interaction between photograph and viewer. It is unclear whether many of the images were staged or candid, and his subjects often seem surreal in their curious poses and attire.
“Making a Presence” is a unique combination of art, photography and history. It is a testament to the social and artistic evolution of technology and art.
The exhibit will be on view in the upper floor of the art museum until December 23.