Washburn Gallery in cooperation with Odd Fellows Art & Antiques of Mount Vernon, Maine, announces the opening of Twentieth Century Folk Photos: A Lost Medium, on view from June 19 through July 25, 2008. This exhibition, consisting of over 150 anonymous photographs, explores the modernist tradition of the ready-made in everyday photographs, primarily snapshots, taken by amateurs with easy-to-use cameras. The overwhelming interest in this genre is reflected in several recent museum exhibitions, most notably, The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (1998) entitled Snapshots: The Photography of Everyday Life, The Metropolitan Museum of Art (2000) Other Pictures: Anonymous Photographs from the Thomas Walther Collection, and The National Gallery of Art (2007) The Art of the American Snapshot 1888-1978: From the Collection of Robert E. Jackson.
At the Washburn Gallery the emphasis will be on anonymous photographs dating from the turn of the century through the 1970's drawn from the collection of Andrew Flamm and Michelle Hauser of Odd Fellows Art & Antiques. Flamm and Hauser have long been on the road from Maine to Nashville, up and down the eastern seaboard, and out to the far corners of the mid-west to scour antiques shops, shows, and flea markets for great examples of Americana. Along the way, they assembled a stunning personal collection of found photographs. Overseen by the astute eye of legendary gallerist Joan Washburn, Twentieth Century Folk Photos: A Lost Medium will offer for sale a fresh and tightly knit selection of Folk Photographs
For the title of the show Washburn Gallery chose the word Folk over Found, Vernacular, or Anonymous to pay homage to the origin of the material presented. Folk in the purest sense of the word is defined as: originating within the general population of a culture; which is an indisputable aspect and the source of this original and engaging imagery. By coining Folk Photos, Washburn has added to the ongoing debate and preference among collectors and curators as to what term best describes this young field of collecting and scholarship. Currently this area of photography encompasses commercial, studio, crime and science as well as amateur and personal snapshots. The field seems to embrace any photographic image not originally intended as a work of art. Joan Washburn, a 30 year veteran of 57th Street, has learned over the years that many great works of art transcend their initial intent, so to re-contextualize snapshots fits perfectly within the gallery setting.
Photographic imagery is far from becoming an endangered species. As it morphs and changes with the latest technology, it is even more omnipresent, permeating all aspects of our lives with a speed unheard of in the twentieth century. We now post and share our everyday photographs online seconds after they are taken, and often never bother with printing them out. The processed print recording images on roles of film that limited the number of exposures from 24 to 36 images at a time, slowly returned the images back to us on freshly minted deckled squares and rectangles, and preserved moments in time, as tactile objects that are emblematic of the past century. Hence, the concept of the lost medium.