Maritime American Photo Exhibit

Sea Classics, March 2001 | Go to article overview

Maritime American Photo Exhibit


A superb collection of rare marine

photos from great periods in recent

history become an exciting cultural event

PANNING THE HISTORY OF PHOTOGRAPHY AND MAN'S EVOLVING RELATIONSHIP WITH THE SEA, A NEW PHOTOGRAPHY EXHIBITION AT THE PAINEWEBBER ART GALLERY PROVIDES A RARE, REVEALING VIEW OF AMERICAN MARITIME CULTURE, INDUSTRY AND SOCIETY. THE 100 VINTAGE PHOTOGRAPHS THAT COMPRISE A MARITIME ALBUM BEAR WITHNESS TO THE FULL SPECTRUM OF MARITIME EXPERIENCE, PROVIDING INSIGHT INTO OUR HISTORY AS EXPLORERS AND ADVENTURES IN THIS VAST AND UNPREDICTABLE WORLD. CHOSEN FROM ONE OF AMERICAN'S MOST EXTENSIVE COLLECTIONS OF MARITIME IMAGES BY THE EMINENT PHOTOGRAPHY CURATOR JOHN SZARKOWSKI, A MARITIME ALBUM INCLUDES WORKS BY PROMINENT PHOTOGRAPHERS EDWIN LEVICK AND A. AUBREY BOBINE, AS WELL AS BY AMATEUR PHOTOGRAPHERS CAPTURING NOTABLE MOMENTS IN THE 19TH AND EARLY 20TH CENTURIES.

ORGANIZED BY THE MARINERS' MUSEUM IN NEWPORT NEWS, VIRGINIA, A MARITIME ALBUM SHOWCASES 100 BLACK AND WHITE PHOTOGRAPHS OF THE FISHING, SAILING AND WHALING TRADITIONS, AS WELL AS NAVAL ENCOUNTERS, SHIPBUILDING VENTURES AND INTIMATE VIEWS OF DAILY MARITIME LIFE. THE EXHIBITION WILL BE ON VIEW FOR THE FIRST TIME IN NEW YORK AT THE PAINERWEBBER ART GALLERY IN MIDTOWN MANHATTAN FROM 18 HANUARY-1 APRIL 2001. THE SHOW IS COMPLEMENTED BY A CATALOG, "A MARITIME ALBUM: 100 PHOTOGRAPHS AND THEIR STORIES," CO-PUBLISHED BY THE MARINERS' MUSEUM AND YALE UNIVERISTY PRESS.

GUEST CURATOR AND PHOTOGRAPHIC HISTORIAN JOHN SZARKOWSKI SELECTED THE PHOTOGRAPHS THAT COMPRISE A MARITIME ALBUM FROM THE ARCHIVES OF THE MARINERS' MUSEUM, A RENOWNED RESOURE INCLUDING MORE THAN 800,000 IMAGES. IN HIS OWN WORDS, SARKOWSKI CHOSE "100 INTERESTING, UNKNOWN. BEAUTIFUL, QUIRKY, INFORMATIVE AND STYLISH PHOTOGRAPHS" FOR THE SHOW. SZARKOWSKI IS CELEBRATED FOR REDEFINING PHOTOGRAPHIC ART HISTORY THROUGH HIS ROLE AS DIRECTOR OF PHOTOGRAPHY AT THE MUSEUM OF MODERN ART FROM 1960 TO 1991, WHERE HE PRESENTED MORE THAN 100 PHOTOGRAPHIC EXHIBITIONS. HIS SELECTIONS FOR A MARITIME ALBUM, AND THE ACCOMPANYING NARRATIVES WRITTEN BY RICHARD BENSON, DEAN OF YALE UNIVERSITY'S SCHOOL OF ART, EXPLORE THE WORLD WITHIN EACH IMAGE.

THE EXHIBITION SPAINS A SIGNIFICANT ERA IN WESTERN CULTURE, IN WHICH PHOTOGRAPHY CAME OF AGE AND INNOVATIONS IN STEAM POWER REVOLUTIONIZED TRANSPORTATION. IN THIS INTRIGUING PERIOD, RICH WITH THE OVERLAPPING OF OLD AND RADICALLY NEW TECHNOLOGIES, MANY AMATEUR AND PROFESSIOAL PHOTOGRAPHERS CHRONICLED THE FULL SPECTRUM OF MARITIME EXPERIENCE. A MARITIME ALBUM IS ARRANGED IN BROAD, LOOSE CATEGORIES, GATHERING IMAGES AROUND THEMES OF DISASTER, CELEBRATORY EVENTS, LEISURE ACTIVITIES AND THE DAILY LIFE OF SAILORS, AMONG OTHERS. INCLUDED IN THE EXHIBITION ARE THE FOLLOWING PHOTOGRAPHS, EACH OF WHICH REVEALS A RICH STORY OF PERSONAL OR CULTURAL HISTORY.

MARITIME DISASTERS

The 1889 photograph, Wreck of the Adler, speaks to the strength of the sea. This massive vessel has been caught by a tropical storm and brutally dropped onto a coral reef, her masts cracked and stripped of their rigging. The hull alone remains intact, a battered reminder of the potential danger that a waits all those who would voyage on water.

The Bombing of the USS Alabama documents target practice as exercised on the USS ALABAMA in September 1921. The vessel is caught at the moment of impact, engulfed in the downward flash of an explosion that has been enhanced with phosphorous for visibility. Above this massive pyrotechnic display, the delicate biplane that dropped the bomb flies away to safety.

CELEBRATORY EVENTS

The Christening of the USS Arkansas marks the ceremonial launching of an ironclad warship that served in the United States Navy. This 1900 photograph records the daughter of the governor of Arkansas breaking a bottle of champagne against the new ship's hull, as the event guests cheer. The hope and joy of this occasion, a rare one in our more standardized century, is clearly frozen in time.

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