EXTENDED UNTIL 30 AUGUST 2021
Dulwich Picture Gallery’s first photographic exhibition, interrupted by the last lockdown has been extended until 30th August. It traces the history of photography as told through depictions of nature, revealing how the subject led to key advancements in the medium, from its very beginnings in 1840 to the present day. Unearthed: Photography’s Roots brings together over 100 works by 35 leading international photographers, many never seen before.
Presenting just one of the many possible histories of photography, this exhibition follows the lasting legacy of the great pioneers who made some of the world’s first photographs of nature, examining key moments in the medium’s history and the influences of sociological change, artistic movements and technological developments, including Pictorialism through to Modernism, experiments with colour and contemporary photography and new technologies.
Arranged chronologically and with a focus on botany and science throughout, the exhibition highlights the innovations of some of the medium’s key figures, including William Henry Fox Talbot (1800-1877), Imogen Cunningham (1883-1976) and Robert Mapplethorpe (1946-1989) as well as several overlooked photographers including Japanese artist, Kazumasa Ogawa (1860-1929) and the English gardener, Charles Jones (1866-1959). It is also the first show to publicly exhibit work by Jones, whose striking modernist photographs of plants remained unknown until 20 years after his death, when they were discovered in a trunk at Bermondsey Market in 1981.
Questioning the true age of photography, the exhibition opens with some of the first known Victorian images by William Henry Fox Talbot, positioning his experimentation with paper negatives as the very beginning of photography. It will also introduce a key selection of cyanotypes by one of the first women photographers, Anna Atkins (1799- 1871), who created camera-less photograms of the algae specimens found along the south coast of England. Displayed publicly for the first time, these works highlight the ground-breaking accuracy of Atkins’ approach, and the remarkably contemporary appearance of her work which has inspired many artists and designers.