“Cubism And American Photography, 1910–1930”

Bowdoin College Museum of Art

It is conventional wisdom that Alfred Stieglitz’s publication of Paul Strand’s photographs in Camera Work, 1915–16, signaled a revolution in American photography. The revolution was “straight photography”; its central tenet was that manipulation of the photographic negative or of the photographed subject was a betrayal of the photographer’s obligation to his art. Believers in straight photography favored an assertive confrontation with modern subject, often urban or industrial, and excluded commercial photography from the realm of art. With these guidelines, the story goes, photography was rescued from the retardataire artiness of pictorialism and thrown into the 20th century.

“Cubism and American Photography, 1910–1930,” a traveling exhibition prepared by John Pultz and Catherine Scallen, challenges this conventional wisdom in two ways. First, the exhibition demonstrates that Cubism was

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