Between the wars and on the walls


Ilse Bing self portrait 1931


The thing that amazes me about this exhibit at Boston College’s McMullen Museum is that it gets better each time you visit. This is a show about the beginnings of photography as we came to know it in the twentieth century; rich with experimentation, nude bodies, touchy subjects and captured moments. It was as the curator said, the time between the wild, crazy years and the dark days of invasion and Nazi suppression of the arts. 

That curator, Ash Anderson, gave PHSNE a personal today, and I found much more in the images than I had on my previous visit; more detail, more richness of surface, more connections with the life that the images depict. His explanations were helpful, his delivery to the point and aimed directly at a room full of photo geeks and the tour went well. The real stars, however, were the great images on the wall. Sometimes the pictures are much smaller than you thought they would be, at least those whose reproductions have become recognizable to us. Some are darker, or lighter, or plainer than the versions you may have seen, since the negatives were often printed and reprinted in different ways by the artists themselves. Some are old favorites, and bring a small smile of recognition as you turn the corner and see one on the wall. After the second visit, I have more old favorites. 

Go make some of your own before the show comes down on June 8.




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