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wwi airplane in flight

Unknown Photographer, German. Silhouette of airplane in flight, around 1914–1918. Gelatin silver print, 13 x 18 cm. Anonymous Gift, 2004. 2004/303.2 © 2018 Art Gallery of Ontario

Photography: First World War, 1914 - 1918

April 28, 2018 — October 28, 2018

Part I: April 28 – October 28, 2018
Part II: November 10, 2018 – April 14, 2019

Located on the first floor in the Edmond G. Odette Family Gallery (Gallery 128) and the Robert & Cheryl McEwen Gallery (Gallery 129).

This exhibition is included with General Admission.

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EXHIBITION OVERVIEW

The First World War is recognized as a period of mass violence and destruction, but also as a beginning. The war ushered in technological innovation, mechanizing and recording war in ways previously impossible. The growing pervasiveness of photography resulted in a conflict well-documented by military officials, press agencies, and amateurs alike.

The Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) holds nearly 500 albums from this period, a unique and extensive collection donated in 2004 by a private collector. The albums reveal different aspects of the relationship between warfare and photography; retrospectively, all of them—personal, official, and commercial—engage in a dialogue with history by presenting unique visual narratives that uphold or challenge historical perceptions of war. The breadth of albums and accounts—British, French, German, Canadian, Austrian, American, Australian, Italian, Czech, and Russian—expose the multiplicities of experience as well as the commonalities of war.

Adjacent to the main display, the McEwen Gallery will showcase works by Australian war photographer James Francis “Frank” Hurley (1885–1962), who was on official assignment throughout World War I. His album Australian Units on the Western Front (1916–1918) presents a series of compelling photographs, each offering views of different aspects of life on the Front. Soldiers, in action and at ease, are pictured, as well as the grimmer realities of war: casualties, scorched landscapes, and destroyed architecture. The album—disassembled for the exhibition—highlights Hurley’s skill as a photographer and features a rich breadth of imagery.

These exhibitions present visitors with a rich opportunity to explore these photographic objects that construct a history of aerial technology and photography, which influenced the operation and outcome of the First World War, a visual record of war that is often left unseen. Together, they contributed to the beginning of a visual consciousness of war that resonates to this day.

A second iteration featuring more material from this collection will be on view from November 10, 2018 to April 14, 2019.

Presented in collaboration with the Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival


PHOTOGRAPHS IN THE EXHIBITION

a british zeppelin in the air

J.A. Spencer, Starting on patrol. From the album Airships, Rigid and Non-Rigid, Howden, 1916–1919. Album: 30 gelatin silver prints and leather cover, 15.7 × 13.5 × 3.3 cm. Anonymous Gift, 2004. 2004/654.1.20 © 2018 Art Gallery of Ontario

wwi airship
haghe two photos of tanks and bombs

Ernest Haghe. Tanks going over and Bomb falling. From Album of the 6th Brigade Royal Air Force, 1916-1919. Album: 88 gelatin silver prints. 23.7 × 26.8 × 4.7 cm. Anonymous Gift, 2004. 2004/306 © 2018 Art Gallery of Ontario

wwi tanks bombs slide
german pilots from wwi

Unknown Photographer, German. From the album Portraits of German Pilots, around 1916. Album: 17 gelatin silver prints, fabric cover and cord, 22 × 32 × 2 cm.  Anonymous Gift, 2004. 2004/328. © 2018 Art Gallery of Ontario

wwi german pilots slide
troops form wwi reviewing surveillance

Unknown American. Photographic room and detachment: reviewing surveillance pictures, around 1917-1918. Gelatin silver print, 17.5 × 23.2 cm. Anonymous Gift, 2004. 2004/514 © 2018 Art Gallery of Ontario

wwi surveillance
an explosion from wwi

James Francis "Frank" Hurley. From the album Australian Units on the Western Front, 1916-1918. Album: 119 gelatin silver prints. 26 x 33 x 7.5cm. Anonymous Gift, 2004. 2004/593 © 2018 Art Gallery of Ontario

wwi explosion slide
wwi city in ruins

James Francis "Frank" Hurley. From the album Australian Units on the Western Front, 1916-1918. Album: 119 gelatin silver prints. 26 x 33 x 7.5cm. Anonymous Gift, 2004. 2004/593 © 2018 Art Gallery of Ontario

wwi city in ruins slide
wwi troops around a fire

James Francis "Frank" Hurley. From the album Australian Units on the Western Front, 1916-1918. Album: 119 gelatin silver prints. 26 x 33 x 7.5cm. Anonymous Gift, 2004. 2004/593 © 2018 Art Gallery of Ontario

wwi troops around campfire slide

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