Archive for the 'History' Category

Retina Camera Research

Posted by on Aug 13 2012 | Exploring the Archive, History, Photography

Some interesting research happening at Eastman House – David Jentz of the Retina Historical Society is here, along with co-researcher, Dr. Klaus-Peter Roesner of Germany looking at our Retina cameras, accessories, and literature in the collection. Mr. Jentz is a well known authority on the Retina camera and has lectured and published numerous articles.

Here are some examples of the cameras they’re spending time with.

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Marilyn On My Mind

Posted by on Aug 03 2012 | History, Photography

This weekend marks the 50th Anniversary Memorial for Marilyn Monroe. Below is a note from our Communications and Visitor Engagement Intern, Zachary Overacker featuring images from our Philippe Halsman collection.

Marilyn Monroe has been an American icon for generations. It’s been 50 years since she has passed – on Aug. 5, 1962 — yet she’s still on magazine covers, the center of the hit NBC show Smash, and becoming an icon to a whole new generation, again.
When you think about it, it’s kind of crazy that someone who passed away several decades ago can still be as relevant as Marilyn Monroe is today. Perhaps it’s because she was the first sex symbol and one of the first huge movie stars. Or, maybe it’s her aura, or her story and how human she was that makes her so popular and so important. I assume it’s a combination of all of those.

Currently in the Eastman House exhibition "See: Untold Stories" is Philippe Halsman's MARILYN AT THE DRIVE-IN, from the portfolio HALSMAN/MARILYN, 1952, printed ca. 1981 © Philippe Halsman

The other day in a store check-out line I noticed that not only was Marilyn on a magazine cover but she was on the majority of the magazine covers. After years of not understanding the obsession with Marilyn, I am starting to finally get it. It’s not just that she was beautiful; she was a huge persona but also human and complicated. She could be this sex icon and at the same time have the innocence of the girl next door. She was really the total package.

MARILYN WITH BARBELLS by Philippe Halsman, from the portfolio HALSMAN/MARILYN, 1952, printed ca. 1981 © Philippe Halsman

It is through this TV show that I’ve developed my interest in (crush on) Marilyn. I remember in grade school girls had pictures of her in their locker or notebook and though I thought she was beautiful I didn’t fully understand the fascination. Now that I better know her story I understanding why she remains iconic … and real.

Marilyn had a very vibrant side to her, but she was also lonely and had a lot of problems, perhaps stemming from her childhood. As an adult Marilyn had problems with drugs, as well as affairs. And yet when watching her movies or staring at her glamorous portraits, you may never know the sad side.

At George Eastman House, you can see her realness in a display of Marilyn photographs by Phlippe Halsman, part of the exhibition See: Untold Stories (up through Sept. 23). Whether it’s the photo of her lying down on a bench lifting weights or just one of her messing around listening to music, each photo is intriguing. I can’t think of anyone else even close to as photogenic as she was. - Zachary Overacker

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Photographic Process 6.0: The Gelatin Silver Print

Posted by on Aug 02 2012 | Exhibitions, History, Photography

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.

Watch the entire photo process series.

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Happy Birthday, George Eastman!

Posted by on Jul 12 2012 | History

300 million photographs are uploaded every day to Facebook (yep, I also had to re-read the number when I saw it). And today we celebrate George Eastman’s birthday (July 12) as if it was a national holiday, remembering the young man who made photography easy and accessible more than 100+ years ago.

At just 25 years old, George Eastman began his career introducing photography and motion picture film to the masses, founding Kodak (in 1880) and ultimately becoming one of the biggest philanthropists of the 20th century.

Eastman’s legacy is still strong today, more than ever. We’re reminded of the same spirit from the drive of Steve Jobs, the intelligence and philanthropy of Bill Gates, and the innovation of Mark Zuckerberg.

As we mark the anniversary of Eastman’s birth, I recall a post written by new Eastman House Trustee Tom Hoehn, where he declared Eastman an “Internet-age pioneer.” He wrote, “I think George Eastman was prescient, a fancy term for showing knowledge of events before they take place.” This includes:

Attention to user experience and ambiguity: Eastman helped create Kodak’s first advertising slogan to explain to consumers the process would be easy: “You press button, we do the rest.” Yes, just one click and magic happened, as with the best web design. Ubiquity just like photo-enabled cameras, phones, and tablets everywhere.

Privacy: Ah, not a topic surfaced by the proliferation of Google and Facebook. When Eastman’s cameras were first introduced, people were trying to come to grips with the fact that they could be the subject of a photograph without their permission. In 1899, The New York Times reported “kodak fiends” were harassing the ladies of Newport, and Teddy Roosevelt was “known to exhibit impatience at attempts to kodak him” and even banned cameras for a time from parks in Washington as a violation of privacy.

Tagging: Kodak introduced Autographic cameras that had a flip door and a stylus, so one could notate photos as they were taken. An ad for the camera said, “It makes the record authentic; answers questions: When did make this? Where was this taken?


Thank you, George Eastman. I will celebrate your legacy tonight as I post online many photos of my children, taken as we play in your gardens during an outdoor concert. Happy Birthday and cheers!

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Anthony Bannon’s Tribute Gala

Posted by on May 31 2012 | History, Other

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