Photo courtesy of the Tang
SARATOGA — One man’s collection of more than 500 photographs dating back to the 1840s is on display at the Tang through Sunday, Aug. 14.
“Borrowed Light: Selections from the Jack Shear Collection,” provides a visual history of photography in a dynamic collection of different photographic techniques.
Historical works include examples from pioneer photographers Diane Arbus, Eugene Atget, Aaron Siskind, Alfred Stieglitz and Minor White.
The collection highlights different processes and techniques, from an early half-plate ambrotype of Niagara Falls to a Polaroid auto-portrait by a young Robert Maplethorpe.
Other works include photographs from Nan Golin, Peter Hujar, George Platt Lynes, Catherine Opie, Edmind Teske, Bruce Weber and Joel Peter Witkin.
Human sexuality has long been a subject of interest for Shear, and his gift is rich in photographs dealing with social constructions of masculinity, the male body, and gender expression. Many of the photographs comment on the body as a physical landscape, and sexual expression in public and private spheres.
Eadweard Muybridge’s Animal Locomotion in the 1880s, represented in twelve examples, is a forbearer to the moving image. The impressive collection of astronomy photographs, includes images of plaster moons, the earliest star atlases, and photographs from Apollo 11’s trip to the moon demonstrates the integration of art and science.
The exhibition and entire collection will support research and analysis by students and faculty working in a range of disciplines, from Art History and Studio Art, to History and Gender Studies, or from Environmental Studies and Biology to Media, Film and Documentary Studies. A sizable collection of photographs by Lewis Hine, for example, is useful for investigating how images can impact government and policy.
Michael Hallisey is managing editor of Spotlight Newspapers.