From the invention of photography in 1839, architecture was second only to portraiture as the most favored subject for the camera. The fact that buildings were immobile was advantageous for the long exposures needed in the early days, but architectural images were popular for other reasons: they documented dynastic, civic, and religious achievements; educated architects about construction and decorative details; and whetted curiosity about distant lands. Later photographers found innovative ways to depict structures of every era and type.
Arranged chronologically, Architecture in Photographs spans the history of the medium and includes works in a variety of photographic processes by such distinguished nineteenth-century practitioners as Henri le Secq, Gustave Le Gray, and Roger Fenton; twentieth-century photographers Eugène Atget, Alfred Stieglitz, and Walker Evans; contemporary artists Ed Ruscha, Lewis Baltz, and Steven Shore; and younger image makers Catherine Opie and Michael Wesely.
The seventy-five images presented here, all from the collection of the J. Paul Getty Museum, form a panoply of architectural structures and styles, from Egyptian ruins to Greek temples and Gothic cathedrals, and from skyscrapers and Modernist schools to mundane vernacular dwellings.
The book was published to coincide with the exhibition In Focus: Architecture, on view at the J. Paul Getty Museum October 15, 2013 to March 2, 2014.
Gordon Baldwin is an independent curator, a recipient of the Rome Prize for his architectural drawings, and a former curator in the Department of Photographs at the J. Paul Getty Museum.
“[Architecture in Photographs] offers a fascinating commentary on the evolution of the medium and the speed of its growth. . . . Here is the Temple of Dendur on its original site . . . and the Eiffel Tower under construction. Here are the cobbled streets of great cities as they were before the automobile, and the Flatiron Building as a solitary monolith emerging from nocturnal mists.”
—FORM: Pioneering Design