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Photography Nation

Photography takes center stage this summer at the National Gallery of Art, with three exhibitions and a calendar full of talks and events that celebrate the first quarter century of the National Gallery’s photography program. The first show, “In Light of the Past: Twenty-Five Years of Photography at the National Gallery of Art,” which closed at the end of July, considered the history of the medium through the presentation of 175 works from the gallery’s collection. The second, “The Memory of Time: Contemporary Photographs at the National Gallery of Art,” on display through September 13, gives the first showings at the National Gallery to 26 contemporary photographic artists, represented with 76 newly acquired works. Later in the fall, the Gallery will open another exhibition of new works acquired to celebrate its anniversary.

Among the artists featured in “The Memory of Time” are Sally Mann, Carrie Mae Weems, Susan Meiselas, Idris Khan, Andrew Moore and Christian Marclay. The exhibition highlights photographers who explore the medium’s “multifaceted and slippery relationship to the truth and to the past,” curator and photography department head Sarah Greenough said in the exhibition announcement. “By embracing this complexity, contemporary artists have placed photography at the center of a renewed discussion around the construction of history and memory and the perception of time.” A catalogue of the exhibition, published by the National Gallery and Thames and Hudson, is available.

“In Light of the Past” offered viewers an opportunity to examine prints by seminal photographers such as William Henry Fox Talbot, Julia Margaret Cameron and Carleton E. Watkins; pictorialist photographs by the likes of Alfred Steiglitz and Eugène Atget; modernist images by photographers such as Paul Strand and László Moholy-Nagy; mid-20th century work by Robert Frank, Irving Penn, Diane Arbus and others; and photographs created in the 1960s and ’70s by artists such as Robert Adams, William Eggleston and Lewis Baltz.

Related: Is the Art World Biased Against Commercial Photographers?

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