It was not the year we anticipated, hoped for, or a year we would want to repeat. The first rumblings of the COVID-19 pandemic began in early 2020, escalated in February, and eventually erupted in our community in March when the Center closed its doors to in-person visits and staff began working remotely. What happened next was a natural shift to expanding the Center’s online presence throughout the year. [Read more…] about Highlights from an unprecedented year
During the hot summer months of 2020, especially in the weeks following the May 25th killing of George Floyd while in police custody, the Magnum Photos, Inc. Photography Collection was often on my mind. The scenes of protest that we witnessed, in countless cities across the United States and the world, reminded me of the iconic Civil Rights Movement images that Magnum’s photographers created. Burt Glinn in 1957 Little Rock, Eve Arnold at the 1961 Black Muslim rally, Danny Lyon at 1963 SNCC sit-ins, Leonard Freed at the 1963 March on Washington, Bruce Davidson at the 1965 Selma march: These images, and many more, documented the epic Black struggle to achieve greater social justice, a struggle that so obviously continues. [Read more…] about The camera as a weapon against racial injustice: Eli Reed’s Black In America
The Harry Ransom Center continues to monitor the local and global developments related to COVID-19, as well as changes in university guidelines. The University of Texas at Austin will be closed from Dec. 23 through Jan. 3, 2020. Ransom Center research services will not be offered during that time.
Trends in photography are most noticeable when they’ve recently passed out of favor. Overhead shots of lattes or potted succulents may seem like good pictures, until suddenly they’re the only things you see on Instagram. Although trend turnover is accelerated by social media, popular photographic styles have followed the same general lifecycle since the 1840s. First, a new style is pioneered and picked up by early adopters. Soon it saturates the visual landscape and everyone’s doing it (remember duck face?). Critics step in to decry the overuse of the trend. Its popularity wanes, only to be replaced by another new style: the next good pictures. [Read more…] about What makes a good picture?
One of many strengths in the Ransom Center’s collections is early photography. In addition to the earliest surviving photograph produced in a camera, The Niépce Heliograph, the Center holds many beautiful examples of daguerreotypes.
One of the most celebrated objects in the history of photography is featured in a permanent exhibition just inside the main entrance to the Harry Ransom Center. The untitled photograph—the earliest known surviving photograph made with the aid of the camera obscura—was produced in 1827 by the French scientist and inventor Joseph Nicéphore Niépce using a process he called héliographie. Permanent exhibitions are never really “permanent,” however; objects may remain in place, but their meanings are always evolving, and exhibitions are periodically revised to reflect those advances. [Read more…] about Introducing The Niépce Heliograph