Since its invention in the nineteenth century, photography has been used to document plant life and humans’ relationship to nature. Early photographic processes required vast amounts of light during exposure, and subjects were often posed in gardens flooded with sunlight. Both scientists and artists have recorded the beauty of plant structures, watching fiddlehead ferns unfurl and observing flowers as they bloom and decay. For amateur photographers, a photograph could capture a prizewinning flower or the image of a loved one among the splendor of the garden.
George Eastman House holds a unique collection of photographs that explore uses of gardens and how humans cultivate the landscapes that surround them. From famous locations such as Versailles to the simplest home vegetable garden, from worlds imagined by artists to food production recorded by journalists, the subjects in this exhibition broaden our understanding of photography and how it has been used to record the cultivated landscape.
Spanning the history of photography and photographic processes (daguerreotype to inkjet prints), more than 75 photographers will be represented, including Anna Atkins, Hippolyte Bayard, Southworth & Hawes, Eugene Atget, Edward Steichen, Alfred Stieglitz, Paul Strand, Imogen Cunningham, Edward Weston, Lee Friedlander, Stephen Shore, Emmet Gowin, Robert Mapplethorpe, Barbara Norfleet, Mark Klett, Ablardo Morell, Andrew Buurman, Tanya Marcuse, Sharon Core, Ori Gersht, Rachel Sussman, and Brad Temkin.