Natural Selection: Important Modernist Photographs from Nature (1840-1960)

27 January - 25 February 2012

James Hyman Photography is pleased to present an exhibition of Modernist icons as well as less well known works, which explores the relationship between modernism and nature. The exhibition consists entirely of rare vintage photographs from the nineteenth and twentieth century and addresses the role of nature for the pioneers of photography. Although the modern metropolis, urbanism and industry may be assumed to be the natural focus for photographers engaged with modernism, the exhibition proposes that for the great pioneers of photography, as for their painter contemporaries, it was frequently nature that provided their starting point.

In painting there are many examples of the leading Modernists beginning their process of abstraction through the deconstruction of landscape motifs such as Cezanne at Mont Sainte Victoire, Picasso at the hill town of Horta de Ebro and Modrian in the plains of Holland. One can make a similar case in photography and trace a development that includes Charles Negre in the South of France, J. B. Greene in Algeria, Edward Weston in Mexico, and Lucien Clergue in the Camargue. In each case a natural motif is the trigger for various forms of Formalist enquiry.

The exhibition includes important vintage photographs of nature and landscape motifs by among others William Henry Fox Talbot, Charles Negre, J.B. Greene, Edward Weston, Paul Strand, Harry Callahan and Lucien Clergue.