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Advertising label, for "Internationale Photographische Auststellung Dresden 1909. Länder- und Völkerkunde. Kunst. Wissenschaft. Industrie. Vergnügungspark. Mai - Oktober"
Advertising label, affixed to an envelope
Private collection of Paul Lipscombe
For the background to this exhibition see: Vanessa Rocco, 2009, "Pictorialism and Modernism at the Dresden Internationale Photographische Ausstellung", History of Photography, voil. 33, no. 4, pp. 383-402
This paper focuses on the International Photographic Exhibition (Iphad), held in Dresden in 1909, offering a case study to illustrate the dynamics of exhibition practice during a time of dramatic artistic and social shifts. By the end of the 1920s, a movement known as the ‘New Vision’ had emerged in Germany and was on its way to becoming an international style, largely through its exposure in high profile exhibitions such as Film und Foto. The New Vision rejected the pre-war mode of Pictorialist photography with its reliance on static subjects and methods borrowed from nineteenth-century painting. But rather than being a sudden development of the late 1920s, the new ways of exhibiting photography that fed into the New Vision's expansive and non-hierarchical approach can be traced back to Iphad, where critics were stunned by the sheer variety of material on display. This earlier critique of Pictorialism was sociocultural as well as technical in character and involved dialectics of juxtaposition, rigorous debates, and jockeying for influence, as is demonstrated through analysis of accompanying publications, installation shots, and published critical reception. This establishes the developmental roots of many elements of the New Vision and its display before it gained international prominence at Film und Foto, particularly the mixing and equating of scientific and artistic photography in exhibitions. The purpose of this paper is to show the complexity and social engagement of art historical shifts and to demonstrate how exhibitions, including those previously under the radar, can often hold a key to understanding these changes.