The photography department represents the most recent curatorial focus at Carnegie Museum of Art. Formally organized in 2008, the collection was acquired gradually over the preceding 50 years and comprises more than 4,500 photographs. Images of Pittsburgh prior to 1960 form the core of the collection, with more than 3,000 photographic prints on this theme by both unknown and celebrated photographers. Internationally acclaimed photographers whose work is in the collection include Julia Margaret Cameron, Elliott Erwitt, Lewis W. Hine, Russell Lee, Barbara Morgan, Alfred Stieglitz, Edward Weston, and many others. Of particular interest is W. Eugene Smith, best known for his Life magazine photo-essays, who is represented by over 500 works that he made in Pittsburgh in the 1950s. Notable among contemporary photographers is Pittsburgh native Duane Michals, an internationally acclaimed artist who now has more than 200 works in the collection.
Currently Featured in Gallery 7
Photography in the Trenches, 1914–1918
June 4–December, 2014
From 1914 to 1918, Walter Koessler served as a lieutenant in the German army during “the war to end all wars.” Koessler carried a camera throughout his service, while also being contracted periodically to make aerial surveillance photographs for the German forces. Known for long stretches of boredom, punctuated by bursts of savage violence, these album pages candidly show World War I through the experience of Koessler and his comrades. The straightforward execution of these small, spontaneous photographs hints at the changing world of images, one that would turn away from the romantic “art for art’s sake,” in favor of new, stark modernity.
In total, the album comprises 107 pages and about 670 photographs; 23 of those pages are displayed here and in the two nearby cases to mark the centennial of the beginning of the war. Thoughtfully composed by Koessler himself, and exquisitely preserved by his family members, this album urges us to remember those who saw not only the arrival of modern warfare, but also the somber and startling birth of a new century.
Photography from Every Angle
Recent and forthcoming exhibitions:
Dream Street: W. Eugene Smith’s Pittsburgh Project (2001–2002)
Luke Swank: Modernist Photographer (2003–2004)
Picturing Childhood: Pictorialist Family Photography, c. 1890–1940 (2007–2008)
Digital to Daguerreotype: Photographs of People (2009–2010)
Storyteller: The Photographs of Duane Michals, November 1, 2014–February 16, 2015