MoMA Celebrates Photographers Experimenting in the Studio

Samaras, Lucas
Lucas Samaras—Courtesy The Museum of Modern Art, New York
Auto Polaroid, 1969-71

In January 2013, Quentin Bajac assumed the role of chief curator of photography at the Museum of Modern Art in New York following a 17-year tenure as curator at the Musée d’Orsay and the Centre Pompidou in Paris. He is the first non-American to hold what is widely considered one of the most influential positions in the photography world, succeeding just four others in the museum’s 83-year history — Peter Galassi, John Szarkowski, Edward Steichen and Beaumont Newhall. Here, he writes for LightBox about some of the motivation behind his inaugural exhibition at MoMA, opening February 8, 2014.


“It is possible for photographers to make or design objects that can be treated with light, thereby creating a world of their own which is in many ways as interesting as the visible, external world.” — Photographer Francis Bruguiere in 1935

Bringing together photographs, film, and videos, A World of Its Own: Photographic Practices in the Studio examines the ways in which photographers and other artists using photography have worked and experimented within the studio space, from photography’s inception to today. In this digital age in which a younger generation of photographers is going back to the studio, I felt it was important to acknowledge the role played by this space in photography’s history.

Featuring both new acquisitions and works from the museum’s collection that have not been on view in recent years, the exhibition includes more than 150 images from the 19th century to the present. I wanted to bypass the traditional categories associated with studio photography (portrait, advertisement, fashion, nude, etc.) and instead consider, in six different sections, the photographer’s studio as an autonomous space, in all its diversity and, sometimes, contradictions.

From a working space to a living space, from a sanctuary to a workshop, from a laboratory to a playground, from a haven to a stage, the studio has taken on varying identities that, for more than a century, photographers have recorded in strikingly creative ways. A World of Its Own attempts to offer another history of photography — a photography created within the walls of the studio, as groundbreaking and inventive as its seemingly more extroverted counterpart, street photography.


Quentin Bajac is the chief curator of photography at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. A World of Its Own: Photographic Practices in the Studio, is on view February 8 – October 5, 2014.


Related Topics: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Latest Posts

Members of a burial team from the Liberian Red Cross under contract from the Liberian Ministry of Health remove the body of a man, a suspected Ebola victim from a home in Matadi on Sept. 17, 2014 in Monrovia, Liberia.

See How a Photographer is Covering Ebola’s Deadly Spread

In Liberia, Ebola is known as the "silent killer". For the past six weeks, photographer Daniel Beherulak has been covering the virus' deadly spread for the New York Times – an assignment fraught with danger. Beherulak and the Times' International Picture Editor tell TIME LightBox how they're working to mitigate the risks

Read More
EBOLASTAFFING

Inside the Ebola Crisis: The Images that Moved them Most

A Syrian Kurdish woman wipes her eyes during a dust storm on a hill where she and others stand watching clashes between jihadists of the Islamic State and Kurdish fighters, at Swedi village some 6 miles west of Suruc in Sanliurfa province, on Sept. 24, 2014.

Photojournalism Daily: Oct. 2, 2014

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 16,813 other followers