It is now common for photographs to be purchased or auctioned for hundreds of thousands of dollars. Photography emerged in the mid-19th century, but regarding photographers as artists was strongly challenged until quite recently. When did photography achieve a status near to that of painting, sculpture, and other creative arts? The art market in photography typically is seen as beginning when the Getty paid five million dollars for the collection of Sam Wagstaff, featuring the work of Robert Mapplethorpe. Michael Berkowitz will explore the essential pre-history of this event, based on research conducted at the University of Arizona's Center for Creative Photography (CCP) as a Josef Breitenbach Fellow in 2014. Berkowitz's long-term project focuses on the Jewish engagement with photography, linking the history of photography and modern Jewish history. The attempt to value photography as art was championed initially by Alfred Stieglitz, a "Hoboken Jew" trained as a photographer in Germany. Stieglitz was arguably the world's greatest photographer, whose career is richly documented in the collections of the CCP. Josef Breitenbach, also featured in the CCP, was an emigre to the United States from Nazi Germany, and was central in the development of photography's art market. Consideration of the ongoing significance of Stieglitz, and the lesser-known exploits of Breitenbach, reveals the background to photography's boom from the 1970s onward. While seeing photography as art is largely taken for granted, it possesses a complex transnational history in which Jewish difference played a critical role.
This lecture will take place at Hillel located on the University of Arizona campus located at 1245 East 2nd street. The lecture will begin at 4 P.M.
Parking will be available at 2nd street garage.
This event is free and open to the public.