In the Schaenen Gallery, Floor 2L
The Class of 1962 Fund for Photography was established in 1977 with a modest gift of five hundred dollars. The Fund, which was envisioned as an ongoing project, has grown remarkably since then to enable significant purchases of historic and contemporary photographs for the Johnson Museum of Art’s permanent collection. Photographs are chosen to fill gaps and build new strengths in our holdings, and with the intention of supporting a broad range of teaching and research interests.
A print from Eadweard Muybridge’s monumental Animal Locomotion series and a Mitch Epstein street scene in brilliant color were among the first photographs purchased with the Class of 1962 Fund. Today, thirty-five photographs in the Museum’s collection hold this distinction, among them Edward Steichen’s joyous portrait of the cabaret performer Yvette Guilbert; Gordon Parks’s The Fontenelles at the Poverty Board, from his disturbing and important photo essay on living conditions in Harlem, published in LIFE magazine in 1967; and Kati Horna’s Espejo, an experimental composition by one of the most intriguing photographers of the twentieth-century Mexican avant-garde.
Horna’s work and eight other recent acquisitions were purchased in honor of the Class’s 60th Reunion, a landmark event that also occasions this installation. Alongside the Class members, the Johnson Museum celebrates this milestone and the Class’s phenomenal giving over the past forty-five years. The photographs presented here, in all of their diversity of context, meaning, and technique, suggest how the photographs acquired through the generosity of the Class of 1962 are meant to challenge and intrigue, inspire conversation and research, and expand understandings of what photography can be and do. The photographs are an enduring legacy that will impact Cornell students and Museum visitors far into the future.
This exhibition was curated by Kate Addleman-Frankel, the Gary and Ellen Davis Curator of Photography, with assistance from Cecilia Lu ’22 and Isabelle McDonald ’23.