Saturday, January 2, 2010
Overview: Sixty years ahead of the avant-garde, aristocratic Victorian women were already experimenting with photocollage. The compositions they made with photographs and watercolors are whimsical and fantastical, combining human heads and animal bodies, placing people into imaginary landscapes, and morphing faces into common household objects.
With sharp wit and dramatic shifts of scale akin to those Alice experienced in Wonderland, these images stand the rather serious conventions of photography in the 1860s and 1870s on their heads. Such images, often made for albums, reveal the educated minds as well as accomplished hands of their makers, as they take on new theories of evolution, the changing role of photography, and the strict conventions of aristocratic society. Together they provide a fascinating window into the creative possibilities of photography in the Victorian era and enduring inspiration for photographic experimentation today.
(Playing with Pictures: The Art of Victorian Photocollage on view at The Metropolitan Museum of Art February 2 – May 9, 2010,)