New exhibition at N.Y.'s Met looks at roots of photo manipulation
Before there was Photoshop, entrepreneurial art photographers might spend weeks in the dark room, altering a single photo until it looked just the way they wanted it. A new exhibition at New York City's Metropolitan Museum of Art looks at that history of manipulation.
Jerry Uelsmann is a giant of surreal photomontage — in the 1960s, he was a leading figure in the new field of Pop photography.
And he still works in that labor-intensive way. Don't even talk to him about point and click digital pictures.
“I’ve had images that I’ve worked on for two or three weeks in the darkroom,” he said. “You know that the idea is a viable one but you’re not quite sure how to resolve it visually.”
Uelsmann’s work is featured in the exhibition Faking It: Manipulated Photography Before Photoshop at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art. It's the first major exhibition, according to the museum, that looks at how photos were manipulated before the digital era.
The exhibition runs though Jan. 27.
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In the late 90s, a representative from Adobe Photoshop approached Uelsmann, asking if he’d create an image on their new software.
He did — once — but didn’t take to the technology. His wife, on the other hand, photographer Maggie Taylor, latched on to it.
She creates her surreal photomontage almost exclusively on a computer.
“I love sitting at a desk and working, I’m kind of nerdy about things,” she said. “The idea of using the computer and being able to manipulate the images more and get exactly what I wanted for a still life image was something that immediately appealed to me.”
While Uelsmann's not interested in Photoshop, he admits he’s sometimes a little jealous of the tools at Taylor's fingertips.
“I don’t think art is a competitive sport,” he allowed. Photography is “another system for making marks on paper. If you do it with a computer, if you do it in the darkroom, there’s a variety of ways of doing it. It’s not like one is better than the other.”
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