Selections from the Collection
Since the invention of photography, the documentation of war has been a subject of interest to the camera and consumers. People have long relied on photographs to view and grapple with the harsh realities of war and conflict, whether by purchasing a copy of Gardner’s Photographic Sketchbook of the War (1866), armchair traveling with stereocards to No Man’s Land of World War I (1914–18), or seeing the destruction of 9/11 on the cover of Time magazine.
This rotation in the Collection Gallery ranges from the Crimean War (1853–56) to the War in Afghanistan (2001–21). The works challenge us to think critically about how photography documents and disseminates information about war, and how photographers’ approaches to recording war has shifted over time.
From portraits of soldiers to views of the battlefield, the photographs—including tintypes, stereocards, albumen silver prints, and inkjet prints—examine the role of images in war and conflict. Photographs by Roger Fenton (English, 1819–1869) and Robert Capa (American, b. Hungary, 1913–1954)—of the Crimean War and of World War II (1939–45), respectively—illustrate how advancements in technology changed how war could be depicted. Iconic images by Timothy O’Sullivan (American, b. Ireland, 1840–1882) and Nick Ut (Vietnamese-American, b. 1951) take viewers to the front line, while works by Anne Noggle (American, 1922–2005) and Michael Koerner (American, b. 1963) explore war’s lasting impact.
Additionally, this exhibition includes two cameras from the Mathew B. Brady Studios—a wet-plate stereoscopic camera and a sliding box camera from the American Civil War era. Also on view are multiple cameras utilized by the United States Army Signal Corps during World War II.
A Note to Visitors
This exhibition features photographs of and reacting to war and conflict. It includes graphic depictions of dead and wounded individuals and of bombings and explosions.
The curator of this rotation of Selections from the Collection has been planning this exhibition for multiple years. We acknowledge the suffering and hardship of people impacted by recent events and sorrowfully note that the topics in this exhibition remain as relevant as ever.
It is our hope that this exhibition provides perspectives and insights that allow visitors to think critically about photographic history in relation to war and conflict, as well as the lives of those directly affected by such events.
About the Collection Gallery
The George Eastman Museum photography collection is among the best and most comprehensive in the world. With holdings that include objects ranging in date from the announcement of the medium’s invention in 1839 to the present day, the collection represents the full history of photography. Works by renowned masters of the medium exist side-by-side with vernacular and scientific photographs. The collection also includes all applications of the medium, from artistic pursuit to commercial enterprise and from amateur pastime to documentary record, as well as all types of photographic processes, from daguerreotypes to digital prints.
The museum's Collection Gallery is dedicated to rotating installations that demonstrate photography’s historical trajectory through photographs and cameras drawn from the collection. The selection of photographs changes regularly, and each rotation offers new opportunities to engage with the museum's treasures.
The Collection Gallery is sponsored in part by ESL Federal Credit Union.
For videos and a glossary of the photographic processes, visit eastman.org/processglossary.
Vault to Wall
What happens after an object is selected to be exhibited in the Collection Gallery? The process shown in this video is an overview of what goes into bringing an object from storage to display.
360 Virtual Tour
Explore this exhibition virtually, complete with all text and full-sized images. Navigation tip: To see the work in greater detail, simply click on the image for it to expand to full screen.