From photography’s earliest days, the thrill and immediacy of the new medium were defined at the first public exhibitions. Half art, half science, photography captured the attention of everyone from eager technophiles to curious painters: the art of representation was about to change. This is the first book to study the history of photography via international exhibitions. The foremost historians of the medium describe the most important shows and set them in the context of their times, from London’s Great Exhibition of 1851, the South Kensington Museum (later the Victoria and Albert Museum) in the 1850s, the magnificent Vienna International Exhibition of 1891, and Film und Foto in Stuttgart in 1929, organized by the Deutscher Werkbund, feature in a wide-ranging global survey.
In the United States, the Museum of Modern Art took a lead in the 1930s; in the postwar period, The Family of Man toured over sixty countries and drew nine million visitors, and as the twentieth century drew to a close, curators began to make formal links between photography and contemporary art. In this century, the photographic aftermath of 9/11 is marked here by an interview with Charles Traub, co-founder of here is new york; dubbed ‘a democracy of photographs’, it remains possibly ‘the most seen exhibition in history’. In the age of Flickr and other internet hosting services, curating photography is one of the most dynamic activities in our visual culture.
Edited by Alessandra Mauro, with contributions by and interviews with Quentin Bajac, Gerry Badger, Paul-Louis Roubert, David Spencer, Francesco Zanot, Michel Frizot, Leila Wanick Salgado, Alessia Tagliaventi and Charles Traub, this is the most important history of photography from its earliest days up to the present, told via a tour of the most significant photography shows that have ever taken place. It will be required reading for anyone with a serious interest in photography and curating, and provides the most informative and wide-ranging survey available of the era’s defining medium.