VOLUME 20 #3

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Exhibits focus on photography, fashion

Portrait Study of John Sloan, 1907-8.
Portrait Study of John Sloan, 1907-8. Gum bichromate. Gift of Helen Farr Sloan, 1978

ON THE GREEN | A unique collection of the work of a pioneering American woman—one of the first to establish herself as a professional portrait photographer—will be the subject of an exhibition on campus opening in February.

“Gertrude Käsebier: The Complexity of Light and Shade,” on display in the Old College Gallery from Feb. 6 to June 28, will focus on photographs and papers held by the University Museums and by Special Collections in the Morris Library. The exhibition will examine both the breadth of Käsebier’s subject matter, from formal portraits to landscapes, as well as her experimentation with photographic printing techniques.

Käsebier (1854-1934) was one of the first women to establish a thriving portrait studio in New York City. The photographer Alfred Stieglitz invited her to become a founding member of the Photo-Secession, which devoted the first issue of its deluxe journal, Camera Work, to her in 1903. Though best known for her emotionally charged images of women and evocations of motherhood, Käsebier’s work went much further.

The Sketch 1903
The Sketch, 1903, Platinum. Gift of Mason E. Turner Jr. 1983

The University holds an exceptional collection of her photographs and personal papers, donated by the artist’s great-grandson Mason E. Turner Jr. of Wilmington, Del.

An interdisciplinary collaboration, the exhibition’s catalog will open with an essay by guest curator Stephen Petersen. Other chapters will present the research of UD professors Debra Hess Norris and Jennifer Jae Gutierrez and graduate student Greta Glaser, who have worked with Petersen and the University Museums staff on the selection of images. Many of the images have been examined in the conservation and research laboratories at Winterthur to determine the precise nature of the printing technique used.

Margaret Stetz, Mae and Robert Carter Professor of Women’s Studies, will contribute an essay on Käsebier within the context of the feminist politics of her day, and Timothy Murray, head of Special Collections, will discuss the materials held in the UD Library.

Common threads: art, history, apparel

A student-led exhibit of women’s fashion during the 20th century will run in conjunction with the Käsebier exhibition beginning Feb. 6.

From the flapper dresses of the Roaring ’20s to the grunge, waif style of the 1990s, “Common Threads: History of Fashion Through a Woman’s Eyes” will provide a study of apparel, art and history.

Featuring nearly two dozen garments and accessories—chosen from among the 3,000-plus housed in the Department of Fashion and Apparel Studies’ Historic Costume and Textiles Collection—the exhibition combines the expertise of faculty, staff and students from across the University. The interdisciplinary project links fashion and apparel studies with material culture research, art conservation, art history, women’s studies, visual communications and University Museums.

Collection pieces, which have been preserved by art conservation students, will include a high-waist, silk dress from 1902; a Christian Dior piece that embodies the feminine style of the 1950s; and a floral “power suit” from the 1980s.

The fashion and art conservation students also have produced 22 podcasts to accompany the exhibition. Two to three minutes long, each video provides a social history of the piece and includes information on the garment’s designer and style. “Common Threads” will remain on display in the West Gallery of Old College until June 28.

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