FINE ARTS

Called to the Camera: Black American Studio Photographers

New Orleans Museum of Art May 2023. 228p. adapted by . ISBN 9780300267389. $50. PHOTOG
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A scholarly, accessible catalogue accompanying an exhibition at the New Orleans Museum of Art (NOMA) informs about Black American studio photographers’ contributions to the medium, and in particular their impact on African American culture. Spanning the 1850s to present and including over 150 photographs, many never before exhibited, this title enriches readers’ understanding of the history of photography in the United States in two ways: by considering, as curator Piper writes, “how professional portrait photographers provided an essential means of representation and discovery for Black Americans,” and by introducing readers to the artistry, business acumen, and daily hard work these photographers brought to their practices. Work by over three dozen photographers is featured, including James Van Der Zee and Addison Scurlock. The exhibition draws from both NOMA’s institutional holdings and from significant public and private collections, including the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture and the National Museum of African American History and Culture.
VERDICT Enhances understanding of an aspect of American photography not well enough understood until now.
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