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10 Must-See Museum Photo Shows of Spring 2014

Where to find Kahlo’s archive, Friedlander’s jazz pix, Michael Snow’s conceptual hijinks, Abelardo Morell’s camera obscura, and more highlights of the spring photo season

Now You See It: Photography and Concealment
Where: Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
When: March 31–September 1, 2014

Photography usually shows the appearance of things. But it can be equally good at hiding. Drawn from the Met’s collection, this show of contemporary and vintage photography and video, including works by Vera Lutter, Taryn Simon, Diane Arbus, and Weegee, looks at what can be concealed.

Left: Bill Wasilevich, Jimmy “One Eye” Collins After Arraignment, 1946, gelatin silver print. Right: Grace Ndiritu, The Nightingale, 2003, video. Click through each image for more information.

Frida Kahlo: Her Photos
Where: Museum of Latin American Art, Long Beach, CA
When: March 15–June 8, 2014

Photography was important to Frida Kahlo – both her father and grandmother were photographers. Throughout her life she collected photos, including 19th-century daguerreotypes and calling cards, as well as pictures from the photo stars that passed through her social circle, such as Tina Modotti, Edward Weston, and Lola and Manuel Álvarez Bravo. Other pictures she treated like canvas, cutting and writing on them. On view here are 257 images from the Blue House archive, where Kahlo was born and lived in the years before she died.

Anonymous, Diego Rivera (in his study at San Ángel), ca. 1940. Click through image for more information.

A World of Its Own: Photographic Practices in the Studio
Where: Museum of Modern Art, New York
When: February 8–October 5, 2014

Some photographers shoot out in the world and wouldn’t know what to do in a studio, but for many, the control and autonomy offered by four white walls is essential. MoMA brings together new acquisitions and work from the collection to explore the ways photographers have used the studio throughout the history of photography, from the theatrical scenes of Julia Margaret Cameron to the chemical experiments of Walead Beshty.

Christian Marclay, Allover (Genesis, Travis Tritt, and others), 2008, cyanotype. Click through image for more information.

A Collective Invention: Photographs at Play
Where: The Morgan Library & Museum, New York
When: February 14–May 18, 2014

In the first show at the Morgan to focus on photography, images aren’t organized in a traditional pattern or overarching theme. Drawn from more than two dozen collections, each image instead relates only to those hanging on either side, but that connection changes with each picture. Including images from the worlds of science, art, and photojournalism, the show, organized by the Morgan’s first photo curator, Joel Smith, looks at the lighter ways images relate to each other.

Left: Acme Photography Bureau, Carving Lincoln on Rushmore Granite, 1937, gelatin silver print with mimeograph attachment. Right: Heinz Hajek-Halke, Erotik—Ganz Groß! (Erotic—In a Big Way!), 1928–32, gelatin silver print. Click through each image for more information.

Michael Snow: Photo-Centric
Where: Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia
When: February 1–April 27, 2014

Experimental filmmaker Michael Snow is best known for his rigorous movies such as Wavelength (1967), a 45-minute zoom across a mostly empty apartment. But at the core of his work is the reproduction of reality made possible by photography. Here, the Philadelphia Museum of Art devotes a show entirely to the role of the still camera in his work.

Left: Michael Snow, Door, 1979, color photograph. Right: Michael Snow, Midnight Blue, 1973-1974, color photograph, wood, acrylic paint, wax. Click through each image for more information.

Refocusing the Lens: Pranlal K. Patel’s Photographs of Women at Work in Ahmedabad
Where: Ruth and Elmer Wellin Museum of Art, Hamilton College, Clinton, New York
When: February 1–April 15, 2014

Pranlal K. Patel, who passed away last week, was an amateur photographer and schoolteacher in Ahmedabad, India. In 1937, he was commissioned by a philanthropic group to document women working inside and outside the home. Shown for the first time in the U.S., Patel’s pictures are an intimate and respectful look at a complex and usually hidden economic and social world.

Pranlal K. Patel, Carrying Goods, ca. 1937. Click through image for more information.

Abelardo Morell: The Universe Next Door
Where: High Museum of Art, Atlanta
When: February 23–May 18, 2014

Abelardo Morell’s playful and inventive approach to photography ranges from experiments in old-fashioned photo techniques, such as his cliché-verre photo-painting mash-ups, to his well-known camera obscura images. Made by turning tents or whole rooms into recording devices, his pictures make sly connections between subjects and the surfaces that record them. This show began at the Art Institute of Chicago and traveled to the Getty, but the High will debut Morell’s commission for the museum’s “Picturing the South” series.

Abelardo Morell, Camera Obscura: The Philadelphia Museum of Art East Entrance in Gallery #171 with a De Chirico Painting, 2005, inkjet print. Click through image for more information.

Dayanita Singh
Where: Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago
When: March 1–June 1, 2014

Dayanita Singh began her career as a photojournalist. Photography remains at the center of her work, which now includes book-making and the construction of portable wooden structures she calls “Museums,” which display her images in changing configurations. Among other pieces, the Art Institute will show its recently acquired construction Myself Mona Ahmed (1989-2001), which includes images of Mona Ahmed, an Indian eunuch Singh befriended while on assignment in 1989.

Dayanita Singh, Myself Mona Ahmed, 1989–2001, printed 2008. Click through image for more information.

Jazz Lives: The Photographs of Lee Friedlander and Milt Hinton
Where: Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven
When: April 4–September 7, 2014

Lee Friedlander is best known as a street photographer with an insatiable eye for the surfaces of American life, but since the 1950s he has been a serious jazz enthusiast, and photographed many of his heroes. Milt Hinton came to the same subject from the other side, a bassist who documented his long career in music using photography. This show, organized by a group of students from Yale, including musicians from the Undergraduate Jazz Collective, brings the two views together.

Lee Friedlander, Young Tuxedo Brass Band, New Orleans, 1959, 1959, gelatin silver print. Click through image for more information.

In the Looking Glass: Recent Daguerreotype Acquisitions
Where: Nelson–Atkins Museum, Kansas City, Missouri
When: January 25–July 20, 2014

Small, made of glass, and housed in elaborate cases, daguerreotypes were the original hand-held photo devices – a precursor to the iPhone. Popular for a few decades after photography’s invention in 1839, they were made without negatives—each is unique. The Nelson-Atkins Museum’s growing collection includes more than 800. The latest additions, on view here, include romantic hand-painted examples from Europe.

Left: Pierre Victor Plumier, Lady in costume, ca. 1850, daguerreotype, half plate. Right: Unknown maker, Portrait of three girls, ca. 1850s, daguerreotype, half plate. Click through each image for more information.

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