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Modern Photography

In the first half of the twentieth century, photography—a medium that sprung from advances in science and technology—was at the forefront of articulating a new vision for the rapidly changing modern world. Modernism marked a rejection of naturalism and academicism as artists began to experiment with their approaches to answering fundamental questions about art and human experience.

Led by figures such as Alfred Stieglitz and Paul Strand, artists abandoned the painterly Pictorialist style of photography in search of what made photographic vision distinct. Photography provided artists with a means to see the world anew and explore the processes of representation and perception by rendering the familiar utterly transformed.

Imogen Cunningham and Edward Weston created works with a sharp focus that emphasized the formal qualities of the medium and the geometry of the natural world around. Henri Cartier-Bresson and Walker Evans utilized the camera’s unique abilities to stop time, blur motion, and shift perspective to capture the dynamism of rising urban centers.

The High Museum’s collection of photographs from the modernist period numbers over 2,000 prints with an emphasis on American and European artists. It includes key works by Alfred Stieglitz, Paul Strand, Man Ray, Imogen Cunningham, Edward Weston, Berenice Abbott, Wynn Bullock, Walker Evans, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Garry Winogrand, and Diane Arbus.