Walsh Art Gallery to host first North American exhibition and symposium to focus on photographers' creative view of Greek antiquities spanning 150 years


Image: Creative Photograph in ArchaeologyFairfield University welcomes the community, students and scholars to the first North American exhibition of "The Creative Photograph in Archaeology - from the Traveling Photographers of the 19th Century to the Creative Photography of the 20th Century." The exhibition opens at the Thomas J. Walsh Art Gallery in the Regina A. Quick Center for the Arts, Thursday, Sept. 27 and runs through Sunday, Dec. 9. Coinciding with the Sept. 27 exhibition opening is a half-day symposium featuring Greek and American scholars as well as noted photographers from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. in the Wien Experimental Theatre at the Quick Center, immediately preceding the opening reception at the gallery from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Admission to the exhibition is free. The symposium is free but reservations are required. For further information about the symposium contact (203) 254-4000 ext. 2459 or John Primavera at jfprimavera@fairfield.edu.

This unprecedented exhibition is curated by Socratis Mavrommatis, chief photographer of the Acropolis Restoration Service and organized by the Benaki Museum in Athens, in collaboration with Dr. Katherine Schwab, associate professor of Art History at Fairfield University.

The collection includes nearly100 stunningly dramatic black and white framed prints featuring Greek antiquities that have been produced from high resolution scans of the original negatives Mr. Mavrommatis explained, "we are very fortunate to be able to display photographs of the finest quality, as the photographers would have demanded." He continued, "In curating the exhibition I followed the work of photographers that attempted to impose a new approach over a long period of time. I made choices that serve two purposes: the abilities of archaeological photography to emphasize its artistic contribution and the photographer's ability to combine his own view of the same information."

Image: Creative Photograph in ArchaeologyThe exhibition is divided into five units that span 150 years and visually portray the bold story of the delicate balance between documentation and creative vision in photographs with antiquities as the subject - from the first photographic attempts of the early travelers in the 19th century through the sophisticated work of the late 20th to early 21st century. A select group of famous photographers is represented and includes William Stillman, Frederic Boissonnas, Walter Hege, Herbert List, and Goesta Hellner and Mr. Mavrommatis.

"The Creative Photograph in Archaeology" marks the second collaboration between Mr. Mavrommatis and Fairfield University. Previously, the university hosted the well-attended photographic exhibition, "Acropolis Restoration Project: Photographs by Socratis Mavrommatis" in Sept.-Dec. 2004.

In discussing the curatorial decision to use photographs of exclusively Greek antiquities, Mr. Mavrommatis noted, "Each place has its own fascination, each site is different and these differences clearly affected each photographer's aesthetic and emotional approach." He added, "Greece is the only place where all the photographers represented in the exhibition worked and, clearly, location and culture are shared by all. We can see vividly how each photographer's individual artistic approach differs from one another."

The symposium is funded from the University's Humanities Institute of the College of Arts and Sciences, and Dr. Schwab, as organizer of the of the event, has assembled a distinguished group of scholars and photographers as participants in the symposium.

Speakers and respondents include:

Mr. Mavrommatis, Chief Photographer, Acropolis Restoration Service, Prof. Kevin Glowacki, Texas A&M University, Professor Andrew Szegedy-Maszak, Wesleyan University, Prof. Katherine Schwab and Dr. Diana Mille, Fairfield University, Mr. Philip Trager, professional photographer. In addition, Dr. Orin L. Grossman, Fairfield's Academic Vice President is will provide opening remarks, and the university's Art History faculty will serve as presiders at the symposium.

Image: Creative Photograph in ArchaeologySymposium topics include an archaeologist's point of view of the value in a photograph, how students perceive antiquities through these photographs, the ways in which the earliest photographers worked, differing artistic voices and approaches, as well as the distraction or enhancement of a photograph of beauty and its potential impact in archaeological research. Contemporary and future directions in photographing antiquities will also be discussed.

The fall exhibition and symposium is presented by the Art History program of the Department of Visual and Performing Arts in the College of Arts and Sciences and is designed to reach out to the University and area students and scholars as well as the community in many ways. To this end, the faculty has scheduled a variety of courses that intersect with the themes and content of the exhibition. Furthermore, the exhibition and symposium will be of interest to the scholarly community and both professional and amateur photographers for the examples exhibited and questions raised.

The first two Director's Choice Series lectures, Oct. 3 and Dec. 5 will focus on the exhibition. The public is invited to bring a brown-bag lunch to the gallery for the 12:30-1:30 p.m. talk. Admission to the lecture is $5.

An exhibition catalogue, edited by Mr. Mavrommatis, with contributions by an international group of specialists from Greece and the U.S., including essays by Prof. Katherine Schwab and Dr. Diana Mille, will be available in English for the exhibition. A separate European tour of the exhibition is being planned and will culminate in an exhibition and conference at the Benaki Museum in 2008.

The Walsh Art Gallery is open Tuesday through Saturday from 11 a.m.-5 p.m., Sunday from Noon-4 p.m. The gallery is closed on Mondays. For further information, please call (203) 254-4000, ext. 2969. For additional information on the exhibition and symposium, please visit the website The Creative Photograph in Archaeology.

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Media Contact: Joan Grant, (203) 254-4000, ext. 2950, jgrant@fairfield.edu

Posted on June 13, 2007

Vol. 39, No. 243