British photographic history

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Exhibition: William Henry Fox Talbot and the Promise of Photography / from 17 November

Using his knowledge of art, botany, chemistry, and optics, William Henry Fox Talbot (British, 1800–1877) invented a means of turning an ordinary piece of paper into “photogenic drawings,” calotypes, and salted paper prints in 1839. Featuring more than 30 works, many of which have never before been shown, the exhibition will provide visitors a glimpse into the earliest days of photography. This is the largest exhibition of Talbot’s work in a North American museum in nearly 15 years, and the first show ever in Pittsburgh to present these important photographs from the dawn of the medium.

The exhibition will be accompanied by a beautiful, small-format book that serves as a primer on  the work of Talbot, featuring an introductory essay by curator Dan Leers and thematic groupings elucidated by noted Talbot scholar Larry Schaaf. With its luminous reproductions of Talbot’s fragile works, this publication (hardcover, 96 pages, 50 illustrations, $25) demonstrates that early photography required a form of magic-making and innovation that continues to inspire people today.

Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh
Nov 18, 2017–Feb 11, 2018 

Image: William Henry Fox Talbot, “Black Cherry Leaves,” likely 1839, photogenic drawing negative, 7 1/4 x 9 in. (image/paper), The William T. Hillman Collection

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