Some of the most enduring and powerful photographs of the 20th century, from Edward Steichens Gloria Swanson (1924) and André Kertészs Chez Mondrian, Paris (1926) to Dorothea Langes Migrant Mother (1936) are on view together for the first time in the United States at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
, in Viewpoints: Photographs from the Howard Greenberg Collection.
Featuring 150 prints from the Howard Greenberg Collection of Photographs446 works recently acquired by the MFAthis exhibition showcases the breadth of the collection. Included are defining images from the 20th century made by many of the eras most notable photographers, such as Dorothea Lange, Henri-Cartier Bresson, Gordon Parks and Robert Frank. The selection of highlights chosen for the exhibition reveals photographys transformative power and examines its role in contributing to collective memories, celebrating the medium as an art form as well as a cultural, political and social force. In addition to exploring the historical importance of the photographs on view, Viewpoints highlights the material properties of these exceptional printsmany the first print of the image, the only print, or the best existing example. On view from August 10 through December 15, 2019 in the Lois B. and Michael K. Torf Gallery, the exhibition features a video interview with Greenberg and is accompanied by an illustrated catalogue produced by MFA Publications.
I am truly thrilled and delighted to have the MFA as the recipient of my personal collection of photographs, said Greenberg. Assembled over 35 years and reflecting the unique access Ive had to so many treasures of 20th-century photography, the collection will be in a perfect resting place at the MFA. The Museums enthusiasm for the results of my efforts has been unrelenting. The collection will be married to what is already a world-class museum collection, formed expertly and intently over a long period of time.
A passionate and discerning pillar in the field, Greenberg above all is a connoisseur. His own experience as a photographer and his early initiation into the world of the darkroom informs his recognition and appreciation of technical mastery, as well as his keen visual sense. Greenbergs collection is closely related to his professional and personal relationships, which have allowed him special access to photographers archives and estates. He has played a key role in establishing the reputations of photographers whose technical and aesthetic contributions had previously been overlookedincluding Louis Faurer, David Heath, Leon Levinstein, Saul Leiter and many others. Greenbergs passion, sense of marvel and excitement of discovery are perhaps what most connect him to the photographs he chose to live withexpressive pictures that invite contemplation. For him, even the most seemingly straightforward photograph, through its composition, print quality and ability to evoke emotion, can transport the viewer to another place somewhere between the real and the abstract. This deeply personal and emotional connection with the objects adds a layer of humanity, intimacy, compassion and empathy to the collection, demonstrating his deep devotion, both personal and professional, to the field of photography.
We are thrilled to be celebrating our acquisition of this unparalleled collection, which could not have been created by a collector other than Howard Greenberg, said Kristen Gresh, Estrellita and Yousuf Karsh Senior Curator of Photographs. It is a result of Howards role in the field of photography and his constant search for the transcendental moments found within this magical medium.
Beginning with a selection of Greenbergs particular favorites, photographs in Viewpoints are divided into seven themes: Capturing Modernism; Picturing the City; Conflicts and Crises; Bearing Witness; Fleeting Moments; Defining Portraits; and Music, Fashion and Celebrity.