Industrial Effects: Photographs from the Henry Art Gallery Collection
Image 1 / 2: Alfred Stieglitz. Snapshot in the New York Central Yards.
Image 2 / 2: Catherine F. Wagner. Genetically Engineered Tomatoes.
In the mid-18th century, economies in Europe and America shifted from an agrarian base to ones dominated by machine production – and our world changed as the Industrial Revolution grew, creating many of the everyday things we take for granted: automobiles, airplanes, televisions, and the 40-hour work week.
Photography rose out of the scientific and technological inquiry that gave birth to the Industrial Revolution. The camera, itself a mechanical medium, is a particularly appropriate tool for charting industry’s impact on the modern world. Over the years, photographers have traced the rise and fall of industry’s popularity—from heroic views of skyscrapers and factories prevalent before the Second World War to more recent, critical looks at industry’s effect on the environment. Early images display a vivid fascination for the growth of cities and transportation systems; steam, steel, and electric lights appear again and again. From the 1960s on, however, the mood shifts. With dry, analytical pictures of urban sprawl or genetically engineered food products, contemporary photographers reflect a growing ambivalence towards industrial advancement.
Industrial Effects offers a sampling of photographs from the Henry’s permanent collection that surveys changing attitudes towards industry from the 19th century until now, in works by Berenice Abbott, Robert Adams, Lewis Baltz, Edward Burtynsky, Alvin Langdon Coburn, Lewis Hine, Alfred Stieglitz, and Catherine Wagner, among others.