Helmut Gernsheim (1913-1995) was one of the most influential figures in the history of photography. He was one of a handful of people whose original research, collecting and writing took the field seriously and changed the way it was regarded. His scholarly and encyclopaedic book, The History of Photography (1955), co-written with his wife Alison, became the authoritative source on the subject. Over the years, Gernsheim managed to assemble a peerless collection of works by leading British, French and German early photographers. These included important British images by Fox Talbot, including a copy of his work The Pencil of Nature, Hill and Adamson, Fenton, Cameron, Le Gray and Daguerre, all of which have since come to be regarded as masterpieces of the 19th century. One of his most sensational discoveries and acquisitions was of the earliest known photographic image, taken by Niepce in 1826.
This exciting and new exhibition at the Harry Ransom Centre, University of Texas scheduled for this coming fall/winter is made up of two complementary and interweaving narratives—the history of photography as told through the collection's imagery, and the history of the collection's formation and methodology. The Gernsheims Collection will be on display alongside works by unknown or lesser-known artists who used various means to improve or to exploit the relatively new invention of photography. The exhibition will highlight key moments in the history of photography, important technological and ideological shifts in the act of picture making, and narratives that served the Gernsheims as key points of collecting.
Further information will be provided in the 'Events' section of this blog as it becomes available. For those who can't quite make it to Texas, there is a fascinating on-line site (http://www.hrc.utexas.edu/exhibitions/permanent/wfp/
) to view one of the Centre's most prominent permanent exhibiton i.e., the first photograph (View from the Window at Le Gras) by Frenchman Joseph Nicéphore Niépce - a great background read to the forthcoming NMeM's conference in October, as reported exclusively by the BPH blog creator.
Photo: The First Photograph (View from the Window at Le Gras. ca1826, heliograph, in original frame, 25.8 x 29.0 cm) housed in its original presentational frame and sealed within an atmosphere of inert gas in an airtight steel and plexiglas storage frame, must be viewed under controlled lighting in order for its image to be visible.