As an artist who was enormously curious and keenly attuned to the issues of his time, it is not surprising that Frederic Edwin Church was interested in photography, the artform that revolutionized picture-making in the nineteenth century. Church’s collection of travel photography provides a new perspective on his work as a landscape painter and shed light on the 19th century philosophical outlook that the world was collectible and, consequently, knowable. During this webinar with independent photo historian Corey Keller, consider how making and collecting photographs offered a medium through which the world could be seen, sorted, and understood in Church’s time. As part of this presentation, Keller will also discuss her recent research on Anna Atkins, one of the earliest female photographers, whose 1840s botanical cyanotypes (blueprints) offer another angle from which to consider the idea of collecting and photographic “specimens.”
Corey Keller is an independent curator and historian of photography based in Oakland, California. She recently stepped down as curator of photography and acting head of the Photography Department at SFMOMA, where she was a member of the curatorial team from 2003 to 2021. She is currently at work on a book about Anna Atkins and teaching at the California College of the Arts.