Foto: Modernity in Central Europe, 1918–1945

Foto: Modernity in Central Europe, 1918–1945


Exhibition: Foto: Modernity in Central Europe, 1918–194
Venue: Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, 1071 Fifth Avenue, New York City
Dates: October 12, 2007 – January 9, 2008

Tour: National Gallery of Art, Washington
June 10 – September 3, 2007

Milwaukee Art Museum
February 9 – May 4, 2008

Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Edinburgh
June 7 – August 31, 2008

Organization: The exhibition is organized by the National Gallery of Art, Washington, and curated by Matthew S. Witkovsky, Assistant Curator of Photographs at the National Gallery. Valerie Hillings, Assistant Curator, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, is coordinator for the New York presentation.

Overview: Foto: Modernity in Central Europe, 1918-1945 presents the work of approximately 100 individuals whose creations exemplify the possibilities for photography in central Europe between the two World Wars. Across Germany, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Austria, and Poland, photography became a phenomenon of immense proportions in the 1920s and 1930s. It fired the imagination of hundreds of progressive artists, provided a creative outlet for tens of thousands of devoted amateurs, and became a symbol of modernity for millions through its use in magazines, newspapers, advertisements and books. Most crucially, as this exhibition will argue, it was in interwar central Europe that the history of photography as a modern art form was established.

Through a series of thematic sections, this survey explores the uses and theory of modernist photography in 170 original works and printed materials from the central European region. This groundbreaking exhibition, organized by the National Gallery of Art, Washington, is the first to bring together recognized masters such as El Lissitzky, László Moholy-Nagy, and Hannah Höch with their lesser well-known contemporaries Karel Teige, Jaromír Funke, Stefan Themerson and Kazimierz Podsadecki, amongst others, attesting to the range and dynamic output of the era.

Foto: Modernity in Central Europe, 1918–1945 is divided into eight sections, each of which compares local differences against a heritage of shared institutions and attitudes towards modernity: The Cut-and-Paste World: Recovering from War; Laboratories and Classrooms; New Women—New Men; Modern Living; The Spread of Surrealism; Activist Documents; Land without a Name; and The Cut-and-Paste World: War Returns.

Catalogue: The exhibition catalogue, Foto: Modernity in Central Europe, 1918–1945, written by Matthew S. Witkovsky, is published by the National Gallery of Art, Washington, in association with Thames & Hudson, London and New York. It includes an introduction by Peter Demetz, professor emeritus at Yale University; biographies of the artists; an extensive bibliography; and maps of the region showing the geopolitical shifts of the early 20th century. The 310-page publication with 192 color and 59 black-and-white illustrations is available from the National Gallery of Art by phone at (202) 842-6002 or (800) 697-9350 ($60.00 hardcover, $45.00 softcover).

July 5, 2007

Betsy Ennis / Leily Soleimani
Guggenheim Public Affairs
Tel: 212-423-3840

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