Why Look at Animals?

Barbara Norfleet (American, b.1926).
Cibachrome print. Courtesy of the artist.

The relationships between humans and the other animals on our planet are complex and profound. Why Look at Animals? examines the ways animals have been represented photographically over time, from the romantic pastoral images of P.H. Emerson, to the sardonic and edgy metaphors of John Heartfield, to the scientific documents of Eadweard Muybridge and Harold Edgerton. The exhibition showcases both familiar and unfamiliar selections from the George Eastman House collection and also explores the variety of ways in which photographs work, using images of animals to demonstrate taxonomy, formal aesthetic, humor, sentiment, and aide memoire.

The exhibition will be presented in sections: They Make Us Laugh; They Inhabit Our Dreams; They Complete Our Families; We Study Them; They are Beautiful; They are Valuable; They Serve Us; Contemporary Works. Highlights of this survey exhibition include early zoo photographs by Count de Montizon, an Edward Steichen portrait of famed herpetologist Raymond Ditmars with snake, and a number of poignant images by Robert Doisneau. Contemporary images will include Barbara Norfleet's series Manscape With Beasts, Rebecca Norris Webb's observations on zoos from The Glass Between Us, Richard Ross's evocative treatment of natural history collections, and a beloved weimeriener of William Wegman.

A 24-page, 6 x 6-inch, color gallery guide is available for purchase with six weeks' advance notice.

Visitor Comments:

"Beautiful exhibit. Thank you."

"Very nice exhibit, split into themes and ideas. Keeping it open-ended, allowing the viewers to bring their own thoughts into it was a good idea. Very thought-provoking."

"Congratulations! A fabulous exhibit, beautifully installed - eye opening."

"Excellent perspective on history of man and animals."

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Quick Facts
Booking12 weeks
Size700 linear ft.
Rental Fee$15,000

Traveling Exhibitions Contact

Rachel Andrews
Traveling Exhibitions Coordinator, George Eastman House
Email Rachel

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