University Of Richmond Museums Opens "Nathan Benn: Kodachrome Memory, American Pictures 1972-1990"

Nathan Benn: Kodachrome Memory, American Pictures 1972-1990 opens February 9 through April 3, 2016, in the Harnett Museum of Art. Nathan Benn (American, born 1950) is a documentary photographer who was an acclaimed full-time photographer for the National Geographic Society for nearly twenty years. The exhibition of his photographs taken from 1972 to 1990 focuses on people in their everyday lives with an emphasis on social and regional diversity. The selection of images features areas of the nation east of the Mississippi River to the Atlantic coast. His works reveal a social commentary on America during the last quarter of the twentieth century as he traveled around the United States taking photographs for the magazine. The artist’s use of color photography for social documentary reportage disputes the idea that black-and-white photography was the only medium for serious documentary photography in the pre-digital era.

Benn’s use of Kodachrome gives his photographs the lush colors and quality of light the process made possible, and his works evoke a “Kodachrome memory” of late twentieth century in America. Kodachrome is the brand name for the color reversal film introduced by the Eastman Kodak Company in 1935. It was one of the first successful color films and was used widely for cinematography, still photography, and publication quality images for print media. Kodachrome stopped being manufactured in 2009.

The exhibition features more than forty evocative color photographs depicting everyday American life. Included in the exhibition are images of tourists at Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida, office workers in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, an affluent fox hunter in Wenham, Massachusetts, urban landscapes, countryside laborers, post-industrial cities, small towns on the wane, and young faces that give a glimpse of America from all walks of life.

Benn started photographing for National Geographic when he was twenty-one years old. He left the organization in 1991 to pursue his interest in emerging digital imaging technology opportunities and founded the first online commercial picture library. He was later the director of the international photographic cooperative Magnum Photos.

The exhibition was organized by art2art Circulating Exhibitions and coordinated by Richard Waller, Executive Director, University Museums. At the University Museums, the exhibition and related programs are made possible in part with funds from the Louis S. Booth Arts Fund. An accompanying catalogue published by Powerhouse Books, Brooklyn, is available.

Programming

Monday, February 8, 6 to 8 p.m.

6 p.m., Artist’s Talk, Camp Concert Hall, Modlin Center for the Arts

“Oak Leaves, Potatoes, and Kodachrome: Eighty Years of Color at National Geographic

Nathan Benn, artist

7 to 8 p.m., Opening reception and preview of the exhibition

Harnett Museum of Art, University Museums

 

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