When Imogen Cunningham took up photography at the turn of the twentieth century, women were more accustomed to being in front of the camera, rather than behind it. A member of the f/64 photography group (along with Ansel Adams and Edward Weston), Cunningham embraced a modernist aesthetic that promoted detail and clarity of vision—a characteristic for which the camera was undeniably well suited. Moving fluidly between portraits, still lifes, and abstractions, Cunningham’s photographs are an homage to light and shadow, shape and form. Images from her seventy-year career are the subject of Seen & Unseen: Photographs by Imogen Cunningham at the Columbia Museum of Art. While the title of the exhibition refers to Cunningham’s ability to coax enigmatic moments from the most common subject matter, it might also describe her understated role in the push to legitimize the photographic arts within the art world.
Seen & Unseen: Photographs by Imogen Cunningham will be on display at the Columbia Museum of Art until April 29. The museum is located at 1515 Main St, Columbia, and is open Tues–Fri, 11–5pm; Sat, 10–5pm; and Sun, Noon–5pm. (803) 799-2810, columbiamuseum.org.