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
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 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.
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.
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.