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Look Inside

New Photography Acquisitions

February 9, 2016 – May 29, 2016

Look Inside: New Photography Acquisitions introduces nearly 200 of the Center's newest acquisitions, tracing photography from its unprecedented post-war expansion to its central position in contemporary art.

Organized by Jessica S. McDonald, the Nancy Inman and Marlene Nathan Meyerson Curator of Photography, Look Inside demonstrates the Center's commitment to building a photography collection spanning the history of photography and representing a wealth of approaches to the medium.

"The photography collection at the Harry Ransom Center is continually growing," says McDonald. "Enriching our holdings of twentieth- and twenty-first-century photographs is one key aspect of our effort to provide a broad range of research opportunities for students, scholars and many other visitors."

Recent additions have strengthened the collection's holdings of works made during vibrant periods in the medium's artistic evolution, such as the American "photo boom" of the 1960s and 1970s. Look Inside showcases groundbreaking photographs by artists who transformed the medium during that period, including Thomas F. Barrow, Betty Hahn, Kenneth Josephson, Nathan Lyons, Ray K. Metzker and Keith Smith. The exhibition features important works by Lee Friedlander and Robert F. Heinecken, the first by those artists to enter the Center's collection.

Look Inside also highlights contemporary works that function in dialog with the Center's rich historical holdings. Featuring artists who explore and challenge the fundamental materials, processes and questions that occupied the imaginations of photography's inventors, the exhibition includes works by artists Marco Breuer, John Chiara, Chris McCaw, Alison Rossiter and Penelope Umbrico. Considering the Center's extensive holdings of twentieth-century reportage as a historical point of reference, the exhibition features selections from extended documentary projects by contemporary artists Alejandro Cartagena, LaToya Ruby Frazier, Louie Palu and Alec Soth.

Beyond showcasing the Center's growing photography collection, Look Inside offers a window into the day-to-day activities of a dynamic archive, library and museum and invites visitors to learn more about collecting practice. The exhibition examines how and why the Center selects particular photographs, highlighting the value of the Center's relationships with artists, donors and community partners. The exhibition highlights significant gifts, as well as a selection of photographs that entered the collection with the archives of writers who counted photographers among their creative peers.

The photography collection at the Ransom Center contains more than 5 million prints and negatives. Founded upon the world-renowned Gernsheim collection, purchased in 1963, the collection has especially strong holdings in nineteenth-century photography. Working archives of photographers David Douglas Duncan, Eliot Elisofon, James H. "Jimmy" Hare, Arnold Newman, Anne Noggle and E. O. Goldbeck reveal the dynamism and growth of the institution's collection. With examples of works representing intellectual, social and creative movements in the history of the medium, the collection's scope makes it an international resource for the study and appreciation of photography.

Look Inside: New Photography Acquisitions offers visitors a deeper understanding of photographic practice and at the same time shows how we are extending this rich history by capturing the visual imagination at play today.