A New Context: Photographs from The Baltimore Sun Revisited


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Visual Arts
Monday, April 8 – Sunday, June 30
A New Context: Photographs from the Baltimore Sun Revisited
Albin O. Kuhn Library Gallery

Newspaper photography creates narrative and demands the cooperation of the photographer, the editor and the subject. This practice was born out of traditions that stretched back to early news photographs which were re-interpreted by an engraver before the image could be published. A retoucher employed ink and paint to bring out salient details and to provide cropping instructions to the newspaper designers. The edited news photograph was not intended to exist today—it was only to be known through reproductions, a practice that conceals its conceptual significance.

At one time, the photo editor made an art form of sleight of hand, of juggling pieces of photographs; the constructed imagery resulted in novel compositions. Presented as news, these creations were merely fragments of the “real” world. Even as the photo-editor insisted on the reality of each photograph’s individual elements, he denied them any sense of uniqueness or wholeness by subordinating individual elements to the picture’s overall composition. This exhibition does not ask why photo-editors or retouchers chose to edit what they did, and what the consequences—visually, socially, historically—of this action might have been. Instead, this exhibition examines the edited newspaper photograph as art objects in and of themselves. The infinitely reproducible photograph, with the help of the editor’s hand, reclaims the aura of the original. Contrasting areas of slick photograph and thick paint create corresponding states of tension and equilibrium. With the passage of time, that which was altered or omitted became elusive, then contingent upon elements which remain visible, the current cultural context, and the psyche of the viewer. The hand-edited photograph, with its marks of revision, is an elegant alternative to the photograph as “window onto the world.”

Tuesday, April 23
Symposium on Print Media, Photography and Art
6 pm, Albin O. Kuhn Library Gallery

A panel discussion focused on the intersection of print media, journalistic photography and art featuring UMBC faculty and Baltimore Sun staff.

Panelists include:

Tom Beck, moderator, UMBC’s Chief Curator of Photography and an Affiliate Associate Professor of Photography for UMBC’s Department of Visual Arts; Christopher Corbett, Professor of English for UMBC’s Department of English; retired Baltimore Sun Photographer, Jed Kirschbaum; and William F. Zorzi, retired Baltimore Sun Reporter and actor in HBO’s The Wire.

The Gallery is open Monday through Friday, 12 noon to 4 pm, on Thursday until 8 pm, and Saturday and Sunday 1 – 5 pm. Closed Memorial Day. Admission is free. For more information call 410-455-2270.

A New Context is sponsored in part by The Baltimore Sun.

This exhibition was curated from pieces collected from the Baltimore Sun Archives housed in UMBC’s Special Collections in the Albin O. Kuhn Library. Approximately 750,000 prints, negatives and transparencies dating from the 1930s through the 1980s are contained in the Sun photography collection. It is estimated that 90% are original Baltimore Sun photographs while the remaining are from non-Sun sources.

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