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Gathering Clouds photography exhibition now on view at the George Eastman Museum

360 virtual tour and audio tours also available

Rochester, N.Y., August 25, 2020—The George Eastman Museum premiered Gathering Clouds: Photographs from the Nineteenth Century and Today on July 26 in the museum’s main galleries. Gathering Clouds illustrates the key role that clouds played in the development and reception of photography from around 1850 to 1920. Bringing cloud photography into the present by way of Alfred Stieglitz’s Equivalents (1923–34), the contemporary works in the exhibition forge new artistic paths while responding in various ways to the history of cloud photography. The exhibition features more than 100 photographs by 19th-century and contemporary artists. The exhibition is also available to view virtually with a 360 tour at eastman.org/clouds.

At the end of the 19nth century, Henry Peach Robinson (British, 1830–1901) emphasized the significance of the sky in landscape photography. “The artistic possibilities of clouds,” he noted, “are infinite.” Robinson’s plea to photographers to attend to the clouds was not new. From photography’s beginnings, clouds had been central to aesthetic and technological debates in photographic circles. Moreover, they featured in discussions about the nature of the medium itself.

The exhibition includes cloud photographs made by prominent figures such as Anne Brigman (American, 1869–1950), Alvin Langdon Coburn (British, b. United States, 1882–1966), Peter Henry Emerson (British, 1856–1936), Gustave Le Gray (French, 1820–1884), Eadweard Muybridge (British, 1830–1904), Henry Peach Robinson, Southworth & Hawes (American, active 1843–1863), and Adam Clark Vroman (American, 1856–1916). Selections from the group of photographs that Alfred Stieglitz (American, 1864–1946) titled Equivalents (1923–34) serve as a link between past and present. The featured contemporary artists are Alejandro Cartagena (Mexican, b. Dominican Republic, 1977), John Chiara (American, b. 1971), Sharon Harper (American, b. 1966), Nick Marshall (American, b. 1984), Joshua Rashaad McFadden (American, b. 1990), Sean McFarland (American, b. 1976), Abelardo Morell (American, b. Cuba, 1948), Vik Muniz (Brazilian, b. 1961), Trevor Paglen (American, b. 1974), Bruno V. Roels (Belgian, b. 1976), Berndnaut Smilde (Dutch, b. 1978), James Tylor (Kaurna, Māori & Australian, b. 1986), Carrie Mae Weems (American, b. 1953), Will Wilson (American, Navajo, b. 1969), Byron Wolfe (American, b. 1967), Penelope Umbrico (American, b. 1957), and Daisuke Yokota (Japanese, b. 1983).

The George Eastman Museum has received grant funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities: NEH CARES program and from Art Bridges to provide digital access, including exhibition tours and talks, for visitors who are unable to visit the museum in person. A 360 tour of Gathering Clouds: Photographs from the Nineteenth Century and Today is now available at eastman.org/clouds, as well as two audio tours to complement the show. One audio tour features

sound bites from some of the contemporary artists whose work is part of the exhibition, and the other is a tour focusing on cloud formations with local meteorologist Scott Hetsko.

Public Programming

Historic Process Demonstration: Clouds and Combination Printing [ONLINE]
Tuesday, September 1, 1 p.m.
Register through Zoom

Many nineteenth-century landscape photographs are cloudless. Early photographic negatives documented light blue and white as the same value, resulting in blank skies. In this live online program, Process Historian Mark Osterman will discuss the reasons for these cloudless skies and demonstrate the nineteenth-century technique of combination printing from two separate negatives. Generous support for this demonstration provided by Art Bridges. This demonstration has been made possible in part by the National Endowment for the Humanities: NEH CARES. The talk is free to all and registration is required via Zoom, as spaces are limited.

Gathering Clouds—Panel Discussion, Part I [ONLINE]
Thursday, September 17, 6 p.m.
Register through Zoom

The first of a two-part panel discussion with associate curator Heather A. Shannon and artists whose work is featured in the exhibition Gathering Clouds: Photographs from the Nineteenth Century and Today. For this first panel, Alejandro Cartagena, Sean McFarland, and Will Wilson will discuss the ways their work engages with environmental issues, including pollution and climate change. This panel discussion has been made possible in part by the National Endowment for the Humanities: NEH CARES. The talk is free to all and registration is required via Zoom, as spaces are limited.

Gathering Clouds—Panel Discussion, Part II [ONLINE]
Thursday, November 19, 6 p.m.
Register through Zoom

The second of a two-part panel discussion with associate curator Heather A. Shannon and artists whose work is featured in the exhibition Gathering Clouds: Photographs from the Nineteenth Century and Today. For this second panel, Sharon Harper, Nick Marshall, Penelope Umbrico, and Byron Wolfe will discuss how clouds have informed their thinking about the nature of photography. This panel discussion has been made possible in part by the National Endowment for the Humanities: NEH CARES. The talk is free to all and registration is required via Zoom, as spaces are limited.

Gathering Clouds is generously sponsored by Midtown Athletic Club and was curated by Heather A. Shannon, PhD. The exhibition will be on view through January 3, 2021.

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