Adolf de Meyer - Josephine Baker (detail)

Adolf de Meyer, American (born France), 1868-1946. Josephine Baker (detail), 1925–26. Gum bichromate over platinum print. Ford Motor Company Collection, Gift of Ford Motor Company and John C. Waddell, 1987 (1987.1100.16)

Adolf de Meyer Photographs at Metropolitan Museum



'Quicksilver Brilliance: Adolf de Meyer Photographs' will be the first museum exhibition devoted to the artist in more than 20 years and the first ever at the Metropolitan Museum. December 4, 2017–March 18, 2018.

Source: Metropolitan Museum of Art

Some 40 works, drawn entirely from The Met collection, reveal the impressive breadth of his career.

A member of the “international set” in fin-de-siècle Europe, Baron Adolf de Meyer (1868–1949) was also a pioneering art, portrait, and fashion photographer, known for creating photographs that transformed reality into a beautiful fantasy. The “quicksilver brilliance” that characterized de Meyer’s art led fellow photographer Cecil Beaton to dub him the “Debussy of the Camera.”

The exhibition includes dazzling portraits of well-known figures of his time: the American socialite Rita de Acosta Lydig; art patron and designer Count Étienne de Beaumont; aristocrat and society hostess Lady Ottoline Morrell; and celebrated entertainer Josephine Baker, among others. A highlight of the presentation is an exceptional book—one of only seven known copies—documenting Nijinsky’s scandalous 1912 ballet L’Après-Midi d’un Faune. This rare album represents de Meyer’s great success in capturing the movement and choreography of dance, a breakthrough in the history of photography. Also on view are the artist’s early snapshots made in Japan, experiments with color processes, and inventive fashion photographs.

After starting in photography as an amateur, de Meyer gained recognition as a leading figure of Pictorialism and a member of the photographic society known as the Linked Ring Brotherhood in London. Alfred Stieglitz exhibited de Meyer’s work in his Little Galleries of the Photo-Secession and published his images as photogravures in his influential journal Camera Work.



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