Organized in conjunction with Helios: Eadweard Muybridge in a Time of Change, this installation of the SFMOMA collection and Sack Photographic Trust examines the American West through the lens of 19th-century photography. Highlights include mammoth-plate photographs of Yosemite Valley by Carleton Watkins, pictures of Yellowstone by Frank Jay Haynes, William Henry Jackson’s panoramic Pike's Peak from the Garden of the Gods, and early stereoviews of San Francisco.
This changing selection of pictures explores SFMOMA's world-renowned photography collection. The current installation, featuring recent additions to the museum's collection, emphasizes the modernist tendency in photography from the mid-nineteenth century to the present day. Photography might be considered the quintessential modernist art medium, not only because its 175-year history corresponds almost exactly with Modernism's duration as a cultural movement, but also because the camera introduced into the world a radical new way of seeing and communicating. Including works by Edward Weston, Dorothea Lange, Wright Morris, and Ken Light, among others, this installation highlights pictures that are both precise and immediate, in which the formal issues of framing, detail, and point of view are paramount.