The following is a note from PPCM graduate student, Ross Knapper.
I’d like to share my experience from the PPCM program, as an intern and explore just a few of the many interesting objects in the vast Eastman House collection. The following is a small group of cat photographs. They are a great example of the incredible diversity available in the collection and not only show a variety of photographic processes and formats, but also illustrate a range of the different ways photographs have been used.
The goal at the PPCM program is to educate ourselves with photographic materials and processes along with photographic history and the social and cultural conditions of its production and reception, so that we can better understand, care for, and manage photographic collections. As even this very small, seemingly casual group of photographs shows, Eastman House provides an incredible opportunity for this type of research and education.
Enjoy the show!
McCall Magazine, Homemaking Cover, Cat & Kittens Date: 1942? Photo Credit: Nickolas Muray Property of: George Eastman House Parents Magazine, Girl with Cat Date: ca. 1945? Photo Credit: Nickolas Muray Property of: George Eastman House
Cats and Kittens Date: ca. 1900 Photo Credit: William M. Van der Weyde Property of: George Eastman House
Taxidermy cat with visible skeletal structure Date: ca. 1920? Photo Credit: Luis Soler Pujol Property of: George Eastman House
Cat; trotting; change to gallop From the series: Animal Locomotion Date: ca. 1884-1887 Photo Credit: Eadweard J. Muybridge Property of: George Eastman House
Ruined interior, Great Chicago Fire, image of cat montaged into foreground Date: 1871? Photo Credit: J.H. Abbott Property of: George Eastman House
Cat watching bird in cage Date: ca.1880 Photo Credit: Art Photo & View Co. Property of: George Eastman House
Cat family being photographed Date: ca. 1920 Photo Credit: Max Kunzli Property of: George Eastman House
In the final part of our photo process series we’re looking at the Gelatin Silver Print. We’re exploring the invention of the process and talking with our curators and historians, who help us put these processes into historical and cultural contexts.
The Gelatin Silver Print process allowed to make black and white images, and is responsible for all the black and white movies, and color photography.
We recently acquired a shell covered Lighthouse. Yes, a shell covered lighthouse. This delicate construction is of particular interest to us because it contains a daguerreotype inset at the bottom of the tower. The daguerreotype displays three women and a young girl – we believe the image to be circa 1850, while the lighthouse was likely built in the 1920′s.
Alison Nordström our senior curator of photographs explains,
“we welcome the opportunity to exhibit a piece with such visual appeal. The Lighthouse is an example of how we can provide an accessible point of entry for a more serious consideration of our daguerreotype holdings. It also adds value to our collection of similar objects, such as the Ansel Adams coffee tin and the deer leg lamp with photographic lampshade.”
This interesting and admittedly, different piece was carefully examined and cleaned and can be seen currently in the Ideas in Things exhibit.
We are excited to present the regional premiere of the Lost Bird Project at the Dryden Theatre Saturday, July 28, 8 p.m. & Sunday, July 29, 2 p.m. A panel discussion will follow the film, followed by a walk through the gardens to view the exhibit, all five bird sculptures. Use the map and explore all five lost bird sculptures on the property and in the gardens. Advance tickets available now.
A Few Minutes with Sculptor, Todd McGrain
The passenger pigeon, Carolina parakeet, Labrador duck, great auk, and the heath hen — diverse species of North American birds with one thing in common — modern extinction.
Sculptor Todd McGrain has memorialized these birds in a series of large-scale bronze sculptures that will be on view in the Eastman House gardens July 3 through September 30. We recently talked with McGrain about the project and its import. How did you come to do this project?
Reaching into a bucket of clay and forming the shape of a small preening duck was the beginning moment of this project. While I was working on this first sculpture, I came across Chris Cokinos’ book Hope Is the Thing with Feathers. Chris thoughtfully tells the stories, describing the decline of extinct North American birds — and the sculpture took on new meaning. It became a memorial.
How did you select which birds to memorialize?
The birds memorialized in this project were driven to extinction in modern times. I became interested in these particular birds because of the beauty of their form. However, their stories of habitat loss and overhunting, bringing once abundant species to an end, propelled the project and gave it meaning. I found each of these birds and their individual stories thoroughly compelling.
What is the goal for the project?
By keeping the memory of these birds alive, we hope to contribute to the efforts by naturalists, scientists, ornithologists, environmentalists, teachers, and others attempting to raise awareness
about the current loss of plant and animal species. Our deteriorating environment puts fragile species under stress.
How did you decide on scale and use of materials for the sculptures?
The sculptures are as large as humans and that parity encourages a sympathy as people approach them — they are undeniable. The sculptures were created to be displayed in the birds’ natural
habitats, which demanded bronze for durability. The tactility of bronze makes people wish to touch them, deepening the viewer’s sympathy for, and understanding of, the birds’ loss.
This project is the subject of a documentary film. How did the film evolve?
Andy Stern, the producer, and I began researching possibilities for placing the sculptures in locations most closely related to each bird’s decline. We soon realized that the people and places
we were finding would be invaluable in telling the story of each bird and approached Middlemarch Films to join forces to produce the documentary. Through the generosity of the entire
Middlemarch crew, we were welcomed into the world of documentary filmmaking. We are particularly grateful to director Deborah Dickson for her talent and persistent vision.
Saturday, July 28, 8 p.m. & Sunday, July 29, 2 p.m.(Deborah Dickson, US 2012, 60 min., Digital Projection)
Following the July 28 screening, join us for a panel discussion with director Deborah Dickson, sculptor Todd McGrain, producer Muffie Meyer, cinematographer Scott Anger, and executive producer Andy
Stern. Following the July 29 screening join sculptor Todd McGrain for a walking tour of the grounds to discuss his work. Advance tickets available now.
Street hawkers "selling" Huckleberry Finn outside the Coronado Theatre in 1931.
Dazzling marquees, large cut-outs of stars, eye-catching posters greeting passersby, street hawkers, parades, and star appearances (or look-alike contests) — just a few ways Hollywood studios encouraged movie-theater owners to create a buzz in towns and cities to “sell” movies during the Golden Age of cinema.
Ballyhoo: The Art of Selling the Movies, an exhibition on view now at George Eastman House, highlights the innovative lobby displays, outdoor advertising, and merchant tie-ins that were a hallmark of film exhibition during the era of the corporate studio system, which was at its peak between 1925 and 1950. The featured images are drawn primarily from the publicity stills and photographs collected by Ray Rueby Sr., and the studio publicity departments of Warner Bros. and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.
During the 25 years that are the focus of this exhibition, studios devised bigger, brassier, and glitzier productions to entice patrons facing the Great Depression and a world war. The publicity efforts that accompanied the films are, in this exhibition, the star of the show.
Attention-grabbing signs for "Private Hargrove" at the Astor Theatre in 1944.
The motion picture industry was considered a wild and uncertain concern in its first two decades. By the early 1920s, as smaller concerns merged into fewer and larger corporations, the industry became stable enough to be considered a legitimate business by Wall Street investors. During these formative years, motion picture studios created a system of vertical integration that allowed them to control every aspect of the business — production, distribution, and exhibition. Corporate ownership of movie theatres and block booking ensured regular exhibition throughout the country.
“We sell tickets to theaters, not movies.”
- Marcus Loew, Loew’s Inc. (1920s)
Studios also provided pre-packaged publicity campaigns to their theatre chains to help fill theater seats in a highly competitive market. Much of the publicity was carried out at the site of exhibition, the theaters themselves. In the age of the “movie palace,” theaters could be alluring structures in their own right, but exhibitors continually refashioned their facades and lobbies to attract audiences week after week.
Theater managers adapted the studios’ strategies — provided to them in the form of pressbooks — to their own venues. Theater managers worked with local merchants on cooperative campaigns (tie-ins) to advertise films in shop windows, stage contests and giveaways, and display merchandise from stores in theatre lobbies. Upon entering the lobby itself, moviegoers encountered creative displays embellished with movie stills and even three-dimensional recreations of movie settings.
Ballyhoo is part of the See: Untold Stories exhibition, which showcases the Eastman House collections, on view through Sept. 16, 2012.