Getty: Nineteenth-Century Photography Now

The earliest photographs—often associated with small, faded, sepia-toned images—may seem to belong to a bygone era, but many of the conventions established during photography’s earliest years persist today. Organized around five themes dating back to the medium’s beginnings, this exhibition explores nineteenth-century photographs through the work of twenty-one contemporary artists. These interchanges between the first decades of the medium and the most recent invite us to reimagine nineteenth-century photography while exploring its complexities. Featuring work by André Adolphe-Eugène Disdéri, William Fox Talbot, Paul Mpagi Sepuya, Carrie Mae Weems, and Gonzales-Day, among others.


As is still the case today, the most popular subjects for the camera in the nineteenth century were people. Early commercial portrait photographers set up studios and established standards for posing and props, serving clients who eagerly shared these prized images with family and friends. Other portraits of the time, however, such as the mug shot and studies of female “hysterics,” reinforced questionable forms of objectification. Paul Mpagi Sepuya and Myra Greene respond to the complex history of photographic portraiture. Fiona Tan, Laura Larson, and Stéphanie Solinas investigate the nineteenth century pseudosciences that relied on the perceived accuracy of the new medium…

West Pavilion, Lower Level
April 9 -July 7

Explore the Exhibition Here