No. 470: Imogen Cunningham, Gold Rush daguerreotypes

Episode No. 470 of The Modern Art Notes Podcast features curators Paul Martineau and Jane L. Aspinwall.

Martineau is the author of “Imogen Cunningham: A Retrospective,” which was recently published by Getty Publications. Susan Ehrens also contributed to the volume. The book will serve as the catalogue for a presently unscheduled Cunningham retrospective at the Getty Center, the first major retrospective of Cunningham’s work in over 35 years. (The exhibition had been scheduled to open at the Getty back in June and has been delayed by the pandemic.) Amazon and Indiebound each offer the book for $45-50.

Cunningham had a remarkable 75-year career that touched on seemingly every movement in American art and photography between the first decade of the 20th century and her death in 1976. She is particularly well-known for her address of pictorialism, her turn to modernism, as well as street photography, nudes and portraits.

On the second segment, former Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art curator Jane L. Aspinwall discussed her exhibition “Golden Prospects: California Gold Rush Daguerreotypes.” The show argues that the Gold Rush was the first “broadly significant event in American history” to be broadly documented in substantial depth by photography. It included rich images of San Francisco and of the Sierra foothills transformed by miners in pursuit of gold. It debuted in Kansas City last year, and was to have traveled to the Peabody Essex and Yale before the pandemic interceded. (The exhibition will not travel to either New England venue.) The fantastic exhibition catalogue was published by Yale University Press. Amazon offers it for $47.

Aspinwall, a two-time MAN Podcast guest, was laid off by the Nelson-Atkins as part of the museum’s inexplicable decimation of its photography department, one of the best and most-admired photography departments in America.

Images are available here.

Air date: November 5, 2020.

Imogen Cunningham, Clare Shepard, Miniaturist, 1910.

Imogen Cunningham, Torso, 1923.

Imogen Cunningham, Flax, 1926.

Imogen Cunningham, Calla Lily (Black and White Lily), 1925-33.

Imogen Cunningham, Alfred Stieglitz at An American Place, 1934.

Imogen Cunningham, Gertrude Stein, Writer, 1934.

Imogen Cunningham, Gertrude Stein, Writer, 1934.

Imogen Cunningham, Cary Grant, Actor, 1932.

Imogen Cunningham, Double Image, Sutter St. and Fillmore, ca. 1947.

Imogen Cunningham, Self-Portrait on Geary Street, 1958.

Imogen Cunningham, Open Air Festival, San Francisco, late 1940s.

Imogen Cunningham, The Unmade Bed, 1957.

Imogen Cunningham, Another Arm, 1973.

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