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Surface beauty
photographic reflections on glass and china

11 December 2004 – 6 March 2005

Introduction | Essay one | Essay two | selected works

image: Clarence H White 'Drops of rain' 1903 from 'Camerawork' photogravure off an original negative Collection of the National Gallery of Australia Clarence H White 'Drops of rain' 1903 from 'Camerawork' photogravure off an original negative Collection of the National Gallery of Australia more detail

The National Gallery of Australia holds one of the few surviving copies of the world's first photographically illustrated book, WH Fox Talbot's The pencil of nature, which was published between June 1844 and April 1846. Talbot's book was both a demonstration manual and a prediction of the applications of the new medium of photography. He included images of china and glass objects to illustrate the camera's special facility in rendering different surface qualities. Using Talbot's visionary ideas as inspiration, Surface beauty presents photographs of china and glassware ranging ranging from classic still-life studies and modernist advertising to contemporary photomedia. It also explores photographers' attraction to the visual ambiguities and possibilities inherent in reflective surfaces.

Photographers in the show include WH Fox Talbot, Heinrich Kuehn, Baron Adolf de Meyer, Paul Outerbridge, André Kertész, Josef Sudek, Brassaï, Yva, Diane Arbus, Lewis Morley, Lee Friedlander, Mary Ellen Mark, William Eggleston, Jan Groover and Shu-Min Lin.

Exhibition curator: Anne O'Hehir, Assistant Curator of Photography, with assistance from Gael Newton, Senior Curator of Photography, Bernard Lilienthal, voluntary research assistant, and Robert Deane, honorary researcher.

 

image: Konica Minolta
Surface beauty is supported by
Konica Minolta Business Solutions Australia Pty Ltd.