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Innovation and experimentation transformed 20th-century photography

Photographers working in Europe during the period between the two World Wars made some of the most memorable images in the medium’s history. Their goal was to infuse their medium with a fresh and distinctly “modern” style. Influenced by Cubism, Constructivism, Dadaism, and Surrealism, and reflecting the effects that technology, urbanization, and cinema were having on their time, European photographers adopted unconventional and innovative approaches to their image making. Characteristics of their visions include rigorous objectivity, surprising camera angles, and darkroom experimentation. “Photo Eye: Avant-Garde Photography in Europe” charts this shift through the work of artists such as Constantin Brancusi, Ilse Bing, André Kertész, Man Ray, László Moholy-Nagy, and Josef Sudek. Their contributions and those of their peers were central to a transformation in photographic expression in the 20th century. The exhibition includes a number of important new acquisitions, along with select loans.

Above: Ilse Bing, Can Can Dancers (detail), 1931. Photograph, gelatin silver print. Ernest Wadsworth Longfellow Fund. Reproduced with permission. Copyright Estate of Ilse Bing.