February 2, 2011

'Painterly' photographers featured in book, exhibit (with slide show)

News and Information

A partnership among the Henry Art Gallery, UW Libraries and UW Press has resulted in a book and exhibition about the “painterly” photographers who formed the Seattle Camera Club in 1924.

The club, composed primarily of Japanese male immigrants (although it did welcome women and Caucasians), existed for just 4 ½ years. It was part of a worldwide surge in amateur and professional photography. Enthusiasts emphasized the beauty of subject matter rather than trying to document reality — following the style of paintings and etchings of that era.

Shadows of a Fleeting World: Pictorial Photography and the Seattle Camera Club, will be on display at the Henry from Feb. 12 to May 8. The companion book, by Seattle art historian David Martin, and Nicolette Bromberg, visual materials curator in Special Collections, was recently published by UW Press.

While the work of many photographers of this era have been lost, the work of the Seattle Camera Club has survived largely due to the foresight of the late Robert Monroe, who for 17 years directed Special Collections.

The exhibit presents more than 100 works by members of the camera club and others who worked in what is known at the Pictorialist style. It was curated by the Henrys chief curator, Elizabeth Brown.

“Most of the talk about Pictorialism centers around the East Coast and the work of people like Alfred Stieglitz,” said Martin in an interview in Columns magazine. “But what most people dont know is that the West Coast is a gold mine of American photographic history. And we are so lucky to have this work here. The works of the Seattle Camera Club were very famous. And its great we have the chance now to show everyone.”