Monday, February 8, 2010

Framing the West: The Survey Photographs of Timothy H. O'Sullivan

This article is about an exhibition that is almost open at the Smithsonian American Art Museum. The exhibition is titled, “Framing the West: The Survey Photographs of Timothy H. O'Sullivan.” It is a collection of photographs by O’Sullivan taken in the mountain and desert regions of the western United States between 1867 and 1874. This article relates the Wallach article about “The West as America.” The O’Sullivan exhibition is showcasing the American west in a romanticized way, even though the photographs were taken for scientific reasons. From the article: “[O’Sullivan] created a body of work that was without precedent in its visual and emotional complexity, while simultaneously meeting the needs of scientific investigation and western expansion.” The audience of this exhibition should question the nature of the photographs to determine the view of the West that they are presenting. It seems that these photographs, while cataloging the West, were also taken because the West was going to disappear. Maybe this exhibition will present the West from a new angle and succeed where “The West as America” exhibition did not.

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