Aperture was originally conceived, in 1952, to promote the appreciation of the art of photography. At first it published just Aperture magazine, but in the mid-1960s the Foundation launched both its book program and a limited-edition print program, as part of and in support of its publishing activities—becoming the leading American photography publisher of its generation. This exhibition tells the story of the evolution of the Foundation, through a display of photographs from its print and fundraising programs made over a period of fifty years. In the process, it charts the evolution of photography itself.
The need for a new photography magazine was identified during a conference about the future of photography held at the Aspen Institute in 1951. Many of the leading lights of the photography community attended, including Minor White, who became Aperture magazine’s founding editor and publisher. With cofounders including Ansel Adams, Dorothea Lange, and curators and historians Beaumont and Nancy Newhall, White sought to cultivate the appreciation of photography as an art form. For the Aperture community, a fine print was without question the ultimate expressive form for a great picture.
The first prints Aperture published were the initiative of White’s successor at Aperture, Michael Hoffman. Hoffman had previously been White’s assistant, taking over from the founding editor in 1964. He initiated Aperture’s first book—Edward Weston’s The Flame of Recognition (1965), a special monographic issue of the magazine that he also published in hardcover, with copies distributed through bookstores—and expanded into limited-edition print publishing. The first print portfolio Aperture published, in 1967, was The Mexican Portfolio, by the great twentieth-century master and perfectionist of the art of the print, Paul Strand. Hoffman learned much from Strand, and the relationship between Strand and Aperture became—and continues to be—more important to Aperture than any other. The Mexican Portfolio was followed by a succession of other portfolios, all made by great craftsmen.
The exhibition includes approximately ninety photographs in various sizes by: Diane Arbus, Bill Armstrong, Olivo Barbieri, Letizia Battaglia, Jo Ann Callis, Robert Capa, Michal Chelbin, William Christenberry, Barbara Crane, Bruce Davidson, Michael Flomen, LaToya Ruby Frazier, Paul Fusco, Luigi Ghirri, Todd Hido , Eikoh Hosoe, Pieter Hugo, Graciela Iturbide, Rinko Kawauchi, Eva-Fiore Kovacovsky, Dorothea Lange, Annie Leibovitz, Jeff Chien-Hsing Liao, Danny Lyon, Mary Ellen Mark, Richard Misrach, Lisette Model, James Mollison, Barbara Morgan, Richard Mosse, Vik Muniz, Matthew Pillsbury, Sylvia Plachy, Robert Rauschenberg, Sebastião Salgado, August Sander, Stephen Shames, David Benjamin Sherry, Stephen Shore, W. Eugene Smith, Edward Steichen, Paul Strand, Penelope Umbrico, Nick Waplington, Alex Webb, James Welling, Edward Weston, Minor White, Hank Willis Thomas, and David Wojnarowicz.
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