360 virtual tour and audio tours also available
Rochester, N.Y., August 25, 2020—The George Eastman Museum premiered Gathering Clouds: Photographs from the Nineteenth Century and Today on July 26 in the museum’s main galleries. Gathering Clouds illustrates the key role that clouds played in the development and reception of photography from around 1850 to 1920. Bringing cloud photography into the present by way of Alfred Stieglitz’s Equivalents (1923–34), the contemporary works in the exhibition forge new artistic paths while responding in various ways to the history of cloud photography. The exhibition features more than 100 photographs by 19th-century and contemporary artists. The exhibition is also available to view virtually with a 360 tour at eastman.org/clouds.
At the end of the 19nth century, Henry Peach Robinson (British, 1830–1901) emphasized the significance of the sky in landscape photography. “The artistic possibilities of clouds,” he noted, “are infinite.” Robinson’s plea to photographers to attend to the clouds was not new. From photography’s beginnings, clouds had been central to aesthetic and technological debates in photographic circles. Moreover, they featured in discussions about the nature of the medium itself.
The exhibition includes cloud photographs made by prominent figures such as Anne Brigman (American, 1869–1950), Alvin Langdon Coburn (British, b. United States, 1882–1966), Peter Henry Emerson (British, 1856–1936), Gustave Le Gray (French, 1820–1884), Eadweard Muybridge (British, 1830–1904), Henry Peach Robinson, Southworth & Hawes (American, active 1843–1863), and Adam Clark Vroman (American, 1856–1916). Selections from the group of photographs that Alfred Stieglitz (American, 1864–1946) titled Equivalents (1923–34) serve as a link between past and present. The featured contemporary artists are Alejandro Cartagena (Mexican, b. Dominican Republic, 1977), John Chiara (American, b. 1971), Sharon Harper (American, b. 1966), Nick Marshall (American, b. 1984), Joshua Rashaad McFadden (American, b. 1990), Sean McFarland (American, b. 1976), Abelardo Morell (American, b. Cuba, 1948), Vik Muniz (Brazilian, b. 1961), Trevor Paglen (American, b. 1974), Bruno V. Roels (Belgian, b. 1976), Berndnaut Smilde (Dutch, b. 1978), James Tylor (Kaurna, Māori & Australian, b. 1986), Carrie Mae Weems (American, b. 1953), Will Wilson (American, Navajo, b. 1969), Byron Wolfe (American, b. 1967), Penelope Umbrico (American, b. 1957), and Daisuke Yokota (Japanese, b. 1983).
The George Eastman Museum has received grant funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities: NEH CARES program and from Art Bridges to provide digital access, including exhibition tours and talks, for visitors who are unable to visit the museum in person. A 360 tour of Gathering Clouds: Photographs from the Nineteenth Century and Today is now available at eastman.org/clouds, as well as two audio tours to complement the show. One audio tour features sound bites from some of the contemporary artists whose work is part of the exhibition, and the other is a tour focusing on cloud formations with local meteorologist Scott Hetsko.
Historic Process Demonstration: Clouds and Combination Printing [ONLINE]
Tuesday, September 1, 1 p.m.
Many nineteenth-century landscape photographs are cloudless. Early photographic negatives documented light blue and white as the same value, resulting in blank skies. In this live online program, Process Historian Mark Osterman will discuss the reasons for these cloudless skies and demonstrate the nineteenth-century technique of combination printing from two separate negatives. Generous support for this demonstration provided by Art Bridges. This demonstration has been made possible in part by the National Endowment for the Humanities: NEH CARES. The talk is free to all and registration is required via Zoom, as spaces are limited.
Gathering Clouds—Panel Discussion, Part I [ONLINE]
Thursday, September 17, 6 p.m.
The first of a two-part panel discussion with associate curator Heather A. Shannon and artists whose work is featured in the exhibition Gathering Clouds: Photographs from the Nineteenth Century and Today. For this first panel, Alejandro Cartagena, Sean McFarland, and Will Wilson will discuss the ways their work engages with environmental issues, including pollution and climate change. This panel discussion has been made possible in part by the National Endowment for the Humanities: NEH CARES. The talk is free to all and registration is required via Zoom, as spaces are limited.
Gathering Clouds—Panel Discussion, Part II [ONLINE]
Thursday, November 19, 6 p.m.
Register through Zoom
The second of a two-part panel discussion with associate curator Heather A. Shannon and artists whose work is featured in the exhibition Gathering Clouds: Photographs from the Nineteenth Century and Today. For this second panel, Sharon Harper, Nick Marshall, Penelope Umbrico, and Byron Wolfe will discuss how clouds have informed their thinking about the nature of photography. This panel discussion has been made possible in part by the National Endowment for the Humanities: NEH CARES. The talk is free to all and registration is required via Zoom, as spaces are limited.
Gathering Clouds is generously sponsored by Midtown Athletic Club and was curated by Heather A. Shannon, PhD. The exhibition will be on view through January 3, 2021.
About the George Eastman Museum
Founded in 1947, the George Eastman Museum is the world’s oldest photography museum and one of the largest film archives in the United States, located on the historic Rochester estate of entrepreneur and philanthropist George Eastman, the pioneer of popular photography. Its holdings comprise more than 400,000 photographs, 28,000 motion picture films and three million archival objects related to cinema, the world’s preeminent collection of photographic and cinematographic technology, one of the leading libraries of books related to photography and cinema, and extensive holdings of documents and other objects related to George Eastman. As a research and teaching institution, the Eastman Museum has an active book publishing program, and its L. Jeffrey Selznick School of Film Preservation’s graduate program (in collaboration with the University of Rochester) makes critical contributions to film preservation. For more information, visit eastman.org.
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IMAGES: High-res promotional images and captions are available for download at the following URL: https://eastmanmuseum.box.com/v/gatheringclouds.
Media Contact: Kellie Fraver
(585) 327-4813; (585) 314-1552