Press Release  July 31, 2019

In Focus: The Camera

The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles

Underwood & Underwood (American, 1881 - 1940s), Photographing New York City - on a slender support 18 stories above pavement of Fifth Avenue., 1905. Gelatin silver print.

The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, Gift of Daniel Greenberg and  Susan Steinhauser

Andreas Feininger (American, born France, 1906 - 1999), The Photojournalist, negative 1951; print later. Gelatin silver print. © Estate of Gertrud E. Feininger.

LOS ANGELES – The camera, once a simple wooden box with a primitive lens and cap for controlling light, has undergone enormous changes since its invention, eventually becoming a tool that is in most people’s back pockets. In Focus: The Camera, on view July 30, 2019 - January 5, 2020 at the J. Paul Getty Museum, Getty Center, explores the evolution of this ingenious device through a selection of historic cameras and photographs.

During the early 19th century, the three essential components of photography—a dark chamber, a light-sensitive substrate, and a method of fixing the image—were used in different ways in the experiments of Nicéphore Niépce (French, 1765-1833), Louis-Jacques-Mandé Daguerre  (French, 1787-1851), and William Henry Fox Talbot (British, 1800-1877). In subsequent decades, advancements such as flexible film stocks, built-in light meters, motor drives, and megapixels transformed the way the camera captures and preserves a moment in time.

On view in the exhibition will be a number of cameras manufactured in the 19th century to present day, including the simple camera obscura, a daguerreotype camera, a stereo camera, an early roll-film camera, a large portable camera, a miniature spy camera, an early color camera, and the first digital camera marketed to the general public. The exhibition will include text that explains how photographs are created using each of these cameras and techniques. Cameras produced by well-known brands such as Kodak, Leica, Nikon, Hasselblad, and Canon will be displayed.

The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, Gift of Gloria and Stanley  Fishfader

Camera Obscura, about 1750-1800. Wood, brass, and glass.

The gallery will also include a number of portraits, self-portraits, and images of artists at work by famed photographers such as Imogen Cunningham (American, 1883-1976), Dorothea Lange (American, 1895-1965), Lisette Model (American, born Austria, 1901-1983), Helmut Newton (German-Australian, 1920-2004), Edward Steichen (American, born Luxembourg, 1879-1973), Andy Warhol (American, 1928-1987), and Edward Weston (American, 1886-1958). These images remind the viewer of the inextricable relationship between the camera and the artist.

In Focus: The Camera is curated by Paul Martineau, associate curator of photographs for the J. Paul Getty Museum.

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