Visualizing 19th-Century New York
September 19, 2014–January 11, 2015
Curated by David Jaffee, Professor and Head of New Media Research, BGC, with BGC Students
Visualizing 19th-Century New York examines New York City—a spectacle for resident and visitor alike—through prints and photographs produced by cultural entrepreneurs who created a vast commercial market for their images of the booming metropolis.
Nineteenth-century New York City was a visual experience, a spectacle for resident and visitor alike. This Bard Graduate Center Focus Gallery exhibition examines how New York’s cultural entrepreneurs turned to the production of woodcuts, aquatints, lithographs, and photographs in order to make sense of their booming metropolis and to promote their own manufactures to a national, indeed international, market.
Anchoring the exhibit are visions of Broadway, which dominated the burgeoning number of visual images of New York that poured out of commercial publishing firms and entered American homes in the nineteenth century. New York City in general and Broadway in particular were the site of the nation’s leading visual entrepreneurs. As visitors stroll around the gallery, and in effect along Broadway, they will encounter the storefronts and the works of four key visual entrepreneurs: Mathew Brady (daguerreotypes), Edward Anthony (stereoviews), Currier & Ives (lithographs), and Harper Brothers (woodcuts in Harper’s Weekly). The final section of the exhibition is a model nineteenth-century parlor, its center table laden with the kind of materials that a mid-century middle class family might own, such as a stereoviewer and a copy of Harper’s Weekly.
Along the way, an interactive digital screen focuses on one of Broadway’s leading corners—Broadway and Ann Street—where P. T. Barnum’s American Museum stood, along with other important urban attractions. Another interactive screen will take you “behind the scenes” of the four establishments to see the varying image-making technical processes and the men and women workers who made these popular products.
Visualizing 19th-Century New York is accompanied by a digital publication that offers a spatial interface to the exhibit materials by placing objects, landmarks, and central themes on the 1851 Matthew Dripps Map of the City of New York, along with essays on objects in the exhibition, including bird’s-eye city views, technical processes such as stereoscopic photography, and historical topics such as the spectacle of strolling on Broadway or how oysters became a popular food among all classes of New Yorkers.
The exhibition is curated by David Jaffee along with Bard Graduate Center students who participated in an innovative year-long sequence of academic courses. Students were critical collaborators in all facets of the exhibit, helping to research and develop the Gallery interactive applications and writing the texts that appear both in the gallery and in the digital publication.
Saturday, September 20, 201411:00 am - 1:00 pmWalking TourAndrew Dolkart
Saturday, October 25, 201411:00 am - 1:00 pmWalking TourMatthew A. Postal
Thursday, October 30, 20146:00 pm - 7:30 pmGallery ProgramJoshua Brown
Friday, November 7, 20149:30 am - 3:00 pmGallery ProgramMarilyn Kushner
The Focus Gallery presents small-scale exhibitions that are part of an academically innovative project that also includes graduate seminars, public programming, and publications both in print and online. Envisaged as a laboratory, Focus Gallery projects promote experimentation in display, interpretation, and the use of digital media and reflect the BGC’s commitment to exhibitions as integral to scholarly activity.
Image Credit: John Bachmann. New York and Environs, 1859. Lithograph. Courtesy of the New York Historical Society.
This digital publication offers a spatial interface to the exhibition materials by placing objects, landmarks, and central themes on the 1851 Matthew Dripps Map of the City of New York, along with essays on objects in the exhibition, including bird’s-eye city views, technical processes such as stereoscopic photography, and historical topics such as the spectacle of strolling on Broadway or how oysters became a popular food among all classes of New Yorkers.
- Barbara Nessim: An Artful Life
- Visualizing 19th-Century New York
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