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Photography and Media

Frederick Douglass
Samuel J. Miller. Frederick Douglass, 1847/52. Major Acquisitions Centennial Endowment.

Photographs have been collected at the Art Institute of Chicago for nearly 70 years, and they have been exhibited here regularly since 1900. The museum championed photojournalism in the 1950s, promoted both 19th-century photography and emerging artists like Robert Frank in the 1960s, and in the following decade became a pioneering center for exhibitions on conceptual art and new media. The collection’s strength in American photography and European-American modernism of roughly 1920 to 1960 is complemented by significant holdings of Japanese 1960s photography and photobooks; work of the 1980s and after by Cindy Sherman, Sarah Charlesworth, and other members of the Pictures Generation; and Pictorialism, a late 19th-century international movement. Great holdings in vernacular pictures and rare photo-illustrated books and magazines complete the collection, which numbers around 24,000 objects in the Photography Department with additional items in the Ryerson and Burnham Libraries as well as the departments of Modern and Contemporary Art and Architecture and Design.

View information on the Photography Study Room, including how to make an appointment.

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