Photographers known as the Pictorialists, who worked around 1900, were part of the first international movement in the history of the medium. Their mission was to prove the artistic merit of photography by strengthening its connections with the fine arts.
To this end they made images that sought to represent truth and beauty; that were atmospheric; that had poetic, literary, or spiritual value; and that emphasized the role of the photographer as a craftsman. Figures such as Alfred Stieglitz, Edward Steichen, Frederick H. Evans, Gertrude Käsebier, and Clarence H. White made spectacular images influenced by current art trends, including Impressionism, Symbolism, and the Arts and Crafts movement.
This exhibition celebrates the MFA’s recent acquisition of four major works related to the Boston leader of the movement, F. Holland Day. His The Seven Last Words (1898), purchased in 2013, is a centerpiece of the show and was recently called “an important touchstone of Modernist photography,” by The New York Times.
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