The Shape of Things: Photographs from Robert B. Menschel at The Museum of Modern Art, October 29, 2016 – May 7, 2017

The Shape of Things: Photographs from Robert B. Menschel presents a compact history of photography, from its inception to the early 21st century, in 100 images. The exhibition is drawn entirely from the 504 photographs that have entered The Museum of Modern Art’s collection over the past 40 years with the support of longtime Museum trustee Robert B. Menschel. It includes a notable selection of works from his personal collection that were given in 2016 and are being shown here for the first time.

Borrowing its title from the eponymous work by Carrie Mae Weems (American, b. 1953), the exhibition presents the history of the medium in three parts, emphasizing the strengths of Menschel’s collection and mirroring his equal interest in historical, modern, and contemporary photography. Each section focuses on a moment in photography’s history and the conceptions of the medium that were dominant then: informational and documentary in the 19th and early 20th centuries, more formal and subjective in the immediate postwar era, and questioning and self-referential from the 1970s onward.” — MoMA

Talbot, Willliam Henry Fox

William Henry Fox Talbot (British, 1800–1877). Rue Basse des Remparts, Paris. May 1843. Salted paper print, 6 11/16 × 6 3/4″ (17 × 17.2 cm). The Museum of Modern Art, New York.Promised gift of Robert B. Menschel.

Bisson, Louis-Auguste

Bisson Frères (French, active 1841–1864), Louis-Auguste Bisson (French, 1814–1876) and Auguste Rosalie Bisson (French, 1826–1900). Cathedral of Notre Dame, Paris (Detail of Facade). c. 1853. Albumen silver print from a glass negative, 14 7⁄16 × 17 13⁄16″ (36.6 × 45.3 cm). The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Acquired through the generosity of Robert B. Menschel.

Marville, Charles

Charles Marville (French, 1816–1879). Pont Neuf. 1870s. Albumen silver print, 14 1⁄8 × 8″ (36 × 23.5 cm). The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Horace W. Goldsmith Fund through Robert B. Menschel.

Abbott, Bernice

Berenice Abbott. George Washington Bridge, Riverside Drive and West 179th Street, Manhattan. January 17, 1936. Gelatin silver print, 9 9/16 x 7 5/8″ (24.3 x 19.3 cm). The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Promised gift of Robert B. Menschel. © 2016 Berenice Abbott/Commerce Graphics.

Jones, Charles Harry

Charles Harry Jones (British, 1866–1959). Onions. c. 1900. Gelatin silver printing-out-paper print, 5 7⁄8 × 8 1/4″ (15 × 21 cm). The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Promised gift of Robert B. Menschel.

Weegee

Weegee (Arthur Fellig). Gay Deceiver. c. 1939. Gelatin silver print, 13 x 10 1/4″ (33 x 26 cm). The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Promised gift of Robert B. Menschel. © 2016 Weegee/ICP/Getty Images.

Siskind, Aaron

Aaron Siskind (American, 1903–1991). North Carolina 30. 1951. Gelatin silver print, 13 1/16 × 9 11/16″ (33.2 × 24.6 cm). Promised gift of Robert B. Menschel. © 2016 Estate of Aaron Siskind.

Callahan, Harry

Harry Callahan (American, 1912–1999). Chicago. c. 1952. Dye transfer print, 8 3/4 × 13 7/16″ (22.3 × 34.1 cm). The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Promised gift of Robert B. Menschel. © 2016 The Estate of Harry Callahan.

HMI's 1/15 sec Phase One FX ISO-400 PHOTO>Thomas Griesel

Lee Friedlander (American, born 1934). Glenwood Springs, Colorado. 1981. Gelatin silver print, 8 5/8 x 12 15/16″ (21.9 x 32.8 cm). The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Horace W. Goldsmith Fund through Robert B. Menschel. © 2016 Lee Friedlander.

Gossage, John

John Gossage (American, born 1946). Monumentenbricke. 1982. Gelatin silver print, 12 3/16 x 9 11/16″ (30.9 x 24.6 cm). The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Promised gift of Robert B. Menschel. © 2016 John Gossage.

Scitex Eversmart Supreme Scan from Ektachrome Transparency Scanned and digitally retouched by: Paige Knight sept 2004

Michael Spano (American, born 1949). Photogram-Michael Spano.1983. Gelatin silver print, 57 7/8 x 23 15/16″ (145.2 x 60.8 cm). The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Robert B. Menschel Fund. © 2016 Michael Spano.

Groover, Jan

Jan Groover. Untitled. 1983. Gelatin silver print, 10 3/16 x 13 1/2″ (25.9 x 34.3 cm). The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Promised gift of Robert B. Menschel. © 2016 Jan Groover.

Coplans, John

John Coplans. Self-Portrait (Back with Arms Above). 1984. Gelatin silver print, 19 13/16 × 15″ (50.4 × 38.1 cm). The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Promised gift of Robert B. Menschel. © 2016 The John Coplans Trust.

313.1987

Joan Fontcuberta (Spanish, born 1955). Mullerpolis Plunfis. 1984. Gelatin silver print, 10 7/16 x 8 9/16″ (26.5 x 21.7 cm). The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Robert and Joyce Menschel Fund. © 2016 Joan Fontcuberta.

Weems, Carrie Mae

Carrie Mae Weems (American, born 1953). The Shape of Things. 1993. Gelatin silver prints, each 26 7/8 x 26 15/16″ (68.2 x 68.4 cm). The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Gift of Robert B. Menschel. © 2016 Carrie Mae Weems.

Le, An-My

An-My Lê (American, born Vietnam 1960). 29 Palms: Infantry Platoon (Machine Gunners). 2003–04. Gelatin silver print, 26 1/2 x 38 1/16″ (67.3 x 96.7 cm). The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Robert B. Menschel Fund. © 2016 An-My Lê.

The Shape of Things is organized by Quentin Bajac, the Joel and Anne Ehrenkranz Chief Curator of Photography, with Katerina Stathopoulou, Curatorial Assistant, Department of Photography, MoMA.

Images courtesy The Museum of Modern Art.