Inventing the Picture History of Photography


  • Datum: 21.03.2019
  • Uhrzeit: 18:00 - 20:00
  • Vortragender: Steffen Siegel
  • Ort: Villino Stroganoff, Via Gregoriana 22, 00187 Rom
  • Kontakt:
 Inventing the Picture History of Photography
Histories of Photography have been written almost as long as photographic pictures exist: Daguerre's manual from 1839 and the first chapter of Talbot's The Pencil of Nature, penned in 1844, are the earliest examples of such an interest in media history. These narratives are shaped according to ongoing improvements of apparatuses and techniques that have been developed by (male) inventors.

There is one aspect that we will miss: an interest in actual pictures. In my talk I want to ask how and when the very idea of writing media history through beholding and understanding pictorial specimens was invented. Hereby, a new market of photo books and photo journals – emerging within the 1920s and 1930s – must be taken into account: Historical photography has been circulated among a wider audience by print media. Discussing some influential examples, I want to show how a picture history of photography could emerge from the printed page – and how it was conceived (and restricted) as an art history of photography at the very same time.

Steffen Siegel has been a professor for the theory and history of photography at Folkwang University of the Arts in Essen (Germany) since 2015. He is the director of Folk-wang's MA program "Photography Studies and Research". His book First Exposures: Writings from the Beginning of Photography was published by the J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles.

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