Exhibition - Group f/64: Legacy And Influence

Friday, Apr 27, 2018


Imogen Cunningham & Rondal Partridge


This unique collection of platinum and silver gelatin prints from acclaimed mother and son artists Imogen Cunningham and Rondal Partridge is a rare opportunity to view the works of these two world renowned photographers. Cunningham (1883-1976) as part of the original Group f/64, founded by a collection of west-coast photographers that included Ansel Adams and Edward Weston, helped launch photography as an art form from its pictorialist beginnings. She was best known for her botanical photography, nudes, and still lives, often using common objects as subjects.  Her most famous images, Magnolia Blossom, 1925 and Unmade Bed, 1958 show her ability to transform the mundane into the sublime.  As a working mother of three (including twin boys) Cunningham used what was readily available to her on which to focus her lens and managed to balance her work and home life, with “one hand in the dishpan, the other in the darkroom” she was quoted as saying about her career as photographer and life as a household matriarch.

One of her twin boys, Rondal Partridge (1917-2015) began helping his mother in the lab as a child, and as a teenager, worked as apprentice to famed photojournalist and family friend Dorothea Lange. He accompanied her up and down the back-roads of California as she photographed the now iconic images of migrant laborers. In addition, he worked with Ansel Adams as his assistant from 1937-1939 documenting the Yosemite National Park and managing Adam’s darkroom in the Yosemite Valley. Though associated with some of the icons of photography, Partridge became a prominent photographer himself, playing with the medium to explore social and artistic commentary. His most famous image Pave it and Paint it Green, 1965 features majestic Half Dome overshadowed by a congested parking lot in the foreground. His works often seem to challenge the viewer to look a bit closer.

Group F/64


Group F/64 was founded in1932 by Ansel Adams, Edward Weston, Imogen Cunningham and eight other photographers as a way to promote a more modernist aesthetic. In part a response to pictorialist and painterly techniques that were popular at the time, this new brand of image making was “pure” photography, not manipulated or derivative of other art forms. The name of the group was derived from the smallest lens aperture used to create the sharpest images with clearest definition. Adams, perhaps the most recognizable name in photography and pioneer of the zone system for exposure and printing, arranged an exhibition of the fledgling F/64 group at the DeYoung Museum in San Francisco that same year. It would be the one and only exhibition of the group as they would eventually disband a few years later. Photography would take another turn, with the creation of magazines like LIFE in 1936, the influence of humanist photography and the “invention” of photojournalism. But the influence of the group, their perspective on image making and documentation, would contribute to the public perception of photography as an art form and its image makers as artists. Their legacy continues to this day, even as the medium evolves beyond film and traditional techniques of image capture.

Exhibition Date: April 5, 2018 - May 31, 2018

Time: By Appointment