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Public Tour | Reality Makes Them Dream: American Photography, 1929-1941

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Event Details:

In the fall of 1930, Stanford biology professor Laurence Bass-Becking used a curious phrase to describe the photography of his friend Edward Weston: “Reality makes him dream.” Few people today would associate dreaminess with the Great Depression, yet Bass-Becking penned this statement one year into the economic turmoil that would last until the nation’s entry into World War II. This exhibition of over 100 photographs, periodicals, and photobooks offers an alternative understanding of 1930s photography in the US by taking Bass-Becking’s phrase as its point of departure.

The work of five photographers featured in the Capital Group Foundation Photography Collection at the Cantor Arts Center—Ansel Adams, John Gutmann, Helen Levitt, Wright Morris, and Edward Weston—comprises the core of the exhibition. Woven into this display is a diverse selection of photographs by their contemporaries that present new narratives about artists and images, from the iconic to the overlooked. Against the typical history of 1930s photography that views the work of this period as primarily documentary, this exhibition contends that a key goal for artists of this period was to use photography to ignite the imagination.

Public Tours: Fridays and Saturdays at 2–3pm [April 14–July 29]

Admission Info: Tours do not require a reservation and are free of charge. We ask you acquire a free all-day reservation to the museum for entry.

First come, first served!

Image: Marion Post Wolcott (American, 1910–1990), Center of town. Woodstock, Vermont. “Snowy Night”, 1940. Selenium-tinted gelatin silver print. Cantor Arts Center, Stanford University. Gift of Michael and Sheila Wolcott, 2000.135

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