Photography at Mid-Century: a Description of George Eastman House's Tenth Anniversary Exhibition
thesisposted on 08.06.2021, 07:34 by Mandy Malazdrewich
This paper is an in-depth description and historic contextualization of George Eastman House’s tenth anniversary exhibition, Photography at Mid-Century, which took place in 1959. With more than 300 photographs by 253 photographers, the ambitious project was the institution’s largest exhibition to date. This paper outlines the practical work involved in researching, locating and cataloguing 136 of the photographs that were included in the exhibition and provides technical information and reproductions of each. In addition to commenting on the lack of scholarship on photographic exhibitions, this thesis provides historical institutional information as it relates to the organization of the exhibition by looking at the roles of the exhibition’s curator, Beaumont Newhall, assistant curator, Walter Chappell, and exhibition catalogue editor, Nathan Lyons. This paper also provides a description of the organization and installation of the exhibition, its touring locations, public reception and the organization of the exhibition catalogue. This discussion contributes to the growing scholarship on photographic exhibitions. It provides a specific example of how photographs were displayed and conceived of at a moment just preceding the enormous impact of postmodern theory on notions of the photograph as art when the place of photography in art museums was still under debate.