Michael Kenna; Homage to Brassai, London, England; negative 1983/print 1984; Toned gelatin silver print; Gift of the George H. Ebbs Family

Architecture + Photography

April 12–May 26, 2014
The Heinz Architectural Center

Photography has always been an important transmitter of architectural ideas, even among its mid-19th-century early adopters. Much of what we know about buildings and sites is not personally experienced, but conveyed through photographic representations of them. However, not every photograph that includes architectural imagery can rightly be called “architectural photography.”

Architecture + Photography demonstrates the wonderfully rich symbiosis between architecture and photography and attempts to parse some of its fascinating complexities. Drawing on the collections of both the Heinz Architectural Center and the Department of Photography, the exhibition presents four groups of objects that explore this relationship:

  • A recently acquired portfolio of pictures of iconic 20th-century buildings taken by famed architectural photographer Ezra Stoller, revealing how his imagery helped shape public understanding of architectural Modernism.
  • A selection of photographs by Frances Benjamin Johnston of historic buildings in Charleston, SC, that reflects on how photography as a documentary form can encourage preservation of our changing built environment.
  • Selections from a “Carnegie Art Set,” a collection of photographs of important sites and buildings (as well as paintings and sculptures) around the world, created by the Carnegie Corporation in the 1920s. Copies of the Carnegie Art Set were distributed as teaching tools to several hundred schools throughout the country, extending Andrew Carnegie’s mission of making knowledge “free to all” far beyond the libraries and museums he gave to Pittsburgh.
  • Images from the museum’s photography department—including works by Richard Artschwager, Dan Graham, Tetsugo Hyakutake, Bruno Requillart, and W. Eugene Smith—suggesting some of the ways in which contemporary artists have responded to architectural forms and imagery in their work.

To view and download a selection of images from the exhibition, please visit the high-resolution digital assets section of this site.

The exhibition is organized by Tracy Myers, curator of architecture, and Alyssum Skjeie, curatorial assistant. Myers says it is useful to think of the exhibition as variations on a theme. “All four groups of works are principally concerned with the way in which architecture figures in photography. However, each group provokes different kinds of questions about things like a photographer’s intentions, Western assumptions about what is culturally significant, whether there is such a thing as photographic objectivity, and how our associations with a place temper our response to an image of it.”

Although many of the Heinz Architectural Center’s exhibitions have included or featured photography, Architecture + Photography is the first to explicitly explore the two fields’ common terrain. Many of the works in the show have not been previously exhibited, affording the museum the opportunity to probe unexplored corners of its collections. Together, the intriguing selection of objects inspires visitors to ask questions about the world we construct while learning about the multifaceted relationship between architecture and photography.

Support
General operating support for Carnegie Museum of Art is provided by The Heinz Endowments and Allegheny Regional Asset District. The programs of the Heinz Architectural Center are made possible by the generosity of the Drue Heinz Trust.  Carnegie Museum of Art receives state arts funding support through a grant from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, a state agency funded by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

Carnegie Museum of Art
Carnegie Museum of Art, founded by industrialist and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie in 1895, is nationally and internationally recognized for its collection of fine and decorative art from the 19th to 21st centuries. The collection also contains important holdings of Japanese and old master prints. Founded in 1896, the Carnegie International is one of the longest-running surveys of contemporary art worldwide. The Heinz Architectural Center, part of Carnegie Museum of Art, is dedicated to enhancing understanding of the built environment through its exhibitions, collections, and public programs. The Hillman Photography Initiative serves as a living laboratory for exploring the rapidly changing field of photography. For more information about Carnegie Museum of Art, one of the four Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh, call 412.622.3131 or visit our website at www.cmoa.org

 # # #