The Origins of American Photography

From Daguerreotype to Dry-Plate, 1839-1885: The Hallmark Photographic Collection at The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art

Keith F. Davis; With contributions by Jane L. Aspinwall

View Inside Price: $65.00


October 28, 2007
360 pages, 9 1/2 x 12
606 tritone and color illus.
ISBN: 9780300122862
Cloth

Distributed for The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art

The Origins of American Photography chronicles the emergence of a new visual paradigm, from the introduction of the daguerreotype in 1839 through the Civil War and the exploration of the West to the rise of popular photography in the 1880s. Beautifully designed and produced, with over 600 reproductions in tritone and four-color, this important volume features works by all the leading practitioners of the time and by others who remain unknown. Many of these images are published here for the first time; all are from the acclaimed Hallmark Photographic Collection at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art.

 

In a detailed and authoritative text, Keith F. Davis examines photography’s social history and aesthetic development in an era of rapid national growth. He demonstrates how key themes and genres—including the business of daguerreian portraiture, the markets for Civil War images, and the art of Western landscape photography—reflected the concerns and values of 19th-century society. Photographers of this era expressed a new national consciousness while, at the same time, helped to shape it. They also explored the visual language of a radically new medium, laying the foundation for all of photography’s subsequent history.

 

This essential book will be the most definitive study of this period in American photographic history. It will be of interest to all scholars and enthusiasts of the medium, and to anyone interested in the visual history of 19th-century American culture.

 

Keith F. Davis is curator of photography at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art and author of An American Century of Photography: From Dry-Plate to Digital, The Hallmark Photographic Collection, and The Art of Frederick Sommer: Photography, Drawing, Collage (Yale).


EXHIBITION SCHEDULE

The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City (June 9 – December 30, 2007)

"...a moving collection of photographs taken during the American Civil War.  This outstanding volume is a visual treat and an authoritative guide."  - Lucy Davies, Daily Telegraph

"The Origins of American Photography is never less than fascinating, the way the topmost books of archival photographs often are."—George Fethering, Seven Oaks 

"Davis . . . chronicles the emergence of a new visual paradigm, from the introduction of the daguerreotype in 1839 through the Civil War and the exploration of the West to the rise of popular photography in the 1880s. Beautifully designed and produced . . . this important volume features works by all the leading practitioners of the time and by others who remain unknown. . . . This book chronicles photography's central role in our nation's cultural life and shows how photography transformed American's sense of themselves and their world."—Umbrella

"Based on a remarkable collection gathered in Kansas City, Mo., by the company that makes Hallmark cards, this comprehensive book, documents the first generation of photography in the United States, a period of excitement, discovery, and experimentation."—Nicholas A. Basbanes (Adult Picks for the Holidays 2007)

"A wonderful catalog. . . . It contains more than 600 significant images from the Hallmark Photographic Collection, all reproduced with exceptional quality in tritone and color. . . . Davis provides a comprehensive text that is both scholarly and readable. The catalog documents an exciting period of photographic history expressed by technical innovation as well as changing social, political, and natural landscapes. . . An important acquisition."—Library Journal

"This is a staggeringly wonderful book: an excursive, intelligent text and the most extraordinary, haunting images... As you flick through this book, a country is - literally - being built before your eyes."---Judith Flanders, Sunday Telegraph

"An authoritative writer, Davis weaves a narrative that, while extensively researched and footnoted, is flowing, informative, and profoundly insightful. . . . Highly recommended."—Choice

"In The Origins of American Photography, Keith F. Davis and Jane L. Aspenwall present one of the most thorough overviews yet of American photography's first fifty years." —Frank H. Goodyear, Technology and Culture

Selected by Choice magazine as an Outstanding Academic Title from 2008.
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