Brought to Light


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Photography and the Invisible, 1840-1900

Edited by Corey Keller; With essays by Jennifer Tucker, Tom Gunning, and Maren Gröning; Additional contributions by Marie-Sophie Corcy, Erin O'Toole, and Carole Troufléau-Sandrin

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Price: $60.00
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A fascinating look at photography’s impact on science and popular culture

Brought to Light invites readers to step back to a time when photography, X-rays, and movies were new, when forays into the world beneath the skin or the realm beyond our everyday vision captivated scientists and the public alike. In this book, accounts of scientific experimentation blend with stories of showmanship to reveal how developments in 19th-century technology could enlighten as well as frighten and amaze. Through a series of 200 vintage images—produced by photographers, scientists, and amateur inventors—this book ultimately traces the rise of popular science.

The images demonstrate early experiments with microscopes, telescopes, electricity and magnetism, motion studies, X-rays and radiation, and spirit photography. We learn how these pictures circulated among the public, whether through the press, world’s fairs, or theaters. What started out as scientific progress, however, often took on the trappings of magic and superstition, as photography was enlisted to offer visual evidence of clairvoyance, spirits, and other occult influences.

With beautifully reproduced plates and engaging narratives, this book embodies the aesthetic pleasures and excitement of the tale it tells.

Published in association with the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art

Exhibition Schedule:

San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (October 11, 2008 – January 4, 2009)

Albertina Museum, Vienna (March 20 – June 6, 2009)

Corey Keller is associate curator of photography at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. Jennifer Tucker is associate professor of History at Wesleyan University. Tom Gunning is professor of Art History at the University of Chicago.

Maren Gröning is Curator of the Photographic Collection at the Albertina Museum, Vienna.


San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (October 11, 2008 – January 4, 2009)

Albertina Museum, Vienna (March 20 – June 6, 2009)

"[This catalog] unearths rare 19th-century scientific prints, everything from an x-ray of a snake digesting a frog to pictures of electricity that could have been taken in Dr. Frankenstein's lab."—Richard B. Woodward, Wall Street Journal

“…in default of visiting the exhibition itself, the book is a splendid exposition of the role of photography in this exciting era, and the accompanying essays provide an excellent historical background.” - Graham Saxby, Royal Photographic Society Journal

‘… [an] exquisite  book.’ - Ángel Gurría-Quintana, Financial Times

"This beautifully designed book/catalogue offers a wonderful visual experience. Readers will discover a surprising aesthetic sensibility in much of the work originally intended to visualize invisible phenomena. . . . Recommended. Lower-level undergraduates and up."—Choice

"Gorgeous. . . . Beautiful and engaging catalogue." —Marta Braun, Victorian Studies

Received First Prize for the 2009 American Association of Museums Publications Design Competition in the category of Exhibition Catalogues.

Short-listed for the 2009 And/Or Photography Book Award sponsored by the Krazsna-Krausz Foundation.
ISBN: 9780300142105
Publication Date: November 25, 2008
Publishing Partner: Published in association with the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art
216 pages, 9 1/2 x 11 3/4
207 color illus.
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