“The Morgan Library & Museum presents a new exhibition about photography’s unique capacity to represent the bonds that unite people. From posed group portraits and candid street scenes to collages, constructions, and serial imagery, photographers have used many methods to place people in a shared frame of reference. Among Others: Photography and the Group brings together more than sixty exceptional works spanning the 1860s to the present to explore the complexity of a type of image that is often taken for granted. Drawn primarily from the Morgan’s collection, the works in the exhibition include images by Amy Arbus, Eve Arnold, Robert Frank, Peter Hujar, and August Sander.
Among Others presents the seemingly endless possibilities of the group photograph, placing historically important portraits alongside records of significant cultural moments and experiments that helped reinvent the genre. In representations of the group, artist, subjects, and circumstances come together to create an image that might call to mind a loving family, a chance encounter among strangers, an embodiment of the democratic spirit, or a photographer’s ability to read and respond to a crowd. The photographs in the exhibition come in many formats: not just exhibition prints, snapshots, and posters, but also photo books, painted wooden sculpture, collages, baseball cards, and even a wastepaper basket featuring Richard M. Nixon. In their range and ingenuity, the works pose questions about family, diversity, democracy, representation, and the varieties of visual delight.” — The Morgan Library & Museum
Amy Arbus (b. 1954), The Clash, NYC, 1981, gelatin silver print. The Morgan Library & Museum, Gift of Amy Arbus, 2018.74 Copyright © Amy Arbus.
Eugene Omar Goldbeck (1892–1986), Indoctrination Division, Air Training Command, Lackland Air Base, San Antonio, Texas, July 19, 1947, gelatin silver print. The Morgan Library & Museum, Purchased on funds given by members of the Photography Collectors Committee, 2018.63.
Peter Hujar (1934–1987), Contact sheet: Gay Liberation Front poster image shoot, 1969 or 1970, gelatin silver print. The Morgan Library & Museum, Peter Hujar Collection, Purchased on the Charina Endowment Fund; 2013.108:8.1263. © Peter Hujar Archive, LLC, courtesy Pace/MacGill Gallery, New York and Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco.
Bob Adelman (1930–2016), People Wall, World’s Fair, New York, 1965, gelatin silver print. The Morgan Library & Museum, Purchased as the gift of Nancy and Burton Staniar, 2015.131. © Bob Adelman Estate.
Art Kane (1925–1995), Harlem, 1958, In “The Golden Age of Jazz,” Esquire, January 1959. The Morgan Library & Museum, Purchased on funds given by Peter J. Cohen, Ronald R. Kass, and Elaine Goldman; 2018.120. Photograph by Art Kane for Esquire, a publication of the Hearst Communications, Inc., Art Kane. Courtesy © The Art Kane Archive.
Mike Mandel (b. 1950), Baseball-Photographer Trading Cards, 1975, photo-offset lithography on cards. The Morgan Library & Museum, Purchased as the gift of Jane P. Watkins, 2013.5:1-135. © Mike Mandel, courtesy the artist and Robert Mann Gallery, New York.
Myers Cope Co. Atlantic City, Photo-multigraph of unidentified girl, ca. 1920s, gelatin silver print with postcard back. The Morgan Library & Museum, Gift of Peter J. Cohen, 2015.119:100.
Powell & Co. Anti-Slavery Constitutional Amendment Picture, 1865, albumen print. The Morgan Library & Museum, Purchased on the Charina Endowment Fund, 2018.64.
Studio Retrato-Escultura Victor, Fotoescultura with eight subjects, ca. 1940s, carved, painted, and assembled wood with hand-colored gelatin silver prints. The Morgan Library & Museum, Purchased as the gift of Richard and Ronay Menschel, 2016.163.
Photographer Unidentified, Group at the Main Building, Moscow State University, after 1953, gelatin silver print and mixed media. The Morgan Library & Museum, Purchased as the gift of Peter J. Cohen, 2018.129.
Photographer Unidentified, Untitled (women in aprons pose among trees), 1913, commercially processed gelatin silver print; postcard. The Morgan Library & Museum, Gift of Peter J. Cohen, 2015.119:101.
“The Morgan’s photography collection has grown and evolved in many directions since its founding in 2012, always with a dual emphasis on the camera’s creative possibilities and its role in shaping modern sensibilities,” said Colin B. Bailey, Director. “We are excited to present this wide-ranging selection of works, most of which are recent acquisitions and have never been exhibited before at the Morgan.”
Joel Smith, the Morgan’s Richard L. Menschel Curator and Department Head, said, “The group is a subject we’re so accustomed to seeing in photographs, it’s easy to forget that the conventions around it had to be invented, and that they shape our picture of reality. This exhibition invites viewers to explore the many ways images have defined—since long before the selfie—how it looks to belong to a group and what it means to be represented.”
Images courtesy The Morgan Library & Museum.