Photographers have been irresistibly drawn to the window as a powerful source of inspiration throughout the history of the medium. As one of the first camera subjects, the window is literally and figuratively linked to the photographic process itself. By bringing together key works, arranged thematically rather than chronologically, and presenting pairings within broader stylistic movements, this volume examines the motif of the window as a symbol of photographic vision.
The Window in Photographs includes more than eighty color plates spanning the history of photography, all drawn from the J. Paul Getty Museum’s permanent collection. The theme is presented in a wide range of contexts, from one of the earliest images by William Henry Fox Talbot or Julia Margaret Cameron’s 1864 allegorical use of the motif, to works by members of the Photo-Secession, including Gertrude Käsebier and Fred Holland Day. The documentary thread of the street photographer can be followed in Eugène Atget’s record of the old quartiers of Paris and later twentieth-century photographs by William Eggleston, Walker Evans, and Lee Friedlander. Alfred Stieglitz and Paul Strand chose to utilize the theme of the window for its more graphic possibilities. More recently, photographers Shizuka Yokomizo and Gregory Crewdson explored conceptual aspects of the window to investigate themes of voyeurism and invented narrative, while Uta Barth and Yuki Onodera created more abstract visions.
The book accompanied the exhibition At the Window: The Photographer’s View, on view at the J. Paul Getty Museum October 1, 2013 to January 5, 2014.
Karen Hellman is assistant curator in the Department of Photographs at the J. Paul Getty Museum.