“Photography is the art of fixing a shadow” said William Henry Fox Talbot (1800-1877), the inventor of photography on paper, to which the Estensi Galleries dedicate, from 12 September 2020 to 10 January 2021, “L imprint of reality. William Henry Fox Talbot. At the origins of photography “. This is the first major Italian retrospective that documents the activity of this pioneer of photography, comparing his work with that of other photographers, artists, scientists, and documenting his links with Italy, in particular with Modena. Including two key works by Karen Knorr from her series Academies (1994-2005) through a collaboration with Matèria Gallery.
Through over 100 works on display, including photogenic drawings, calotypes, daguerreotypes, engravings from daguerreotypes, contemporary photographs, the exhibition traces the experiences that led to the birth of this new form of representation of reality. The exhibition also offers the extraordinary autograph correspondence between William Henry Fox Talbot and the Modenese optician, mathematician, astronomer and natural scientist Giovanni Battista Amici (1786-1863), showing some scientific instruments that were the basis of the relationship between the two inventors . Talbot, in fact, had a relationship with the Modenese scientist, considered the most important Italian manufacturer of optical instruments of the nineteenth century, testified by a series of letters and by some ‘photographic evidence’ preserved in the Estense Library, that the English inventor gave to Amici. The discovery of these materials, which took place in 1977, gave rise to an exhibition curated by Italo Zannier which was held at the Palazzo dei Musei in Modena.
Forty years after that initiative, “The imprint of reality. William Henry Fox Talbot. At the origins of photography “, curated by Silvia Urbini with Chiara Dall’Olio, in collaboration with the Modena Visual Arts Foundation and partner of the Fotografia Europea festival, therefore represents an exceptional in-depth study of the collections of the Estensi Galleries, and at the same time a exhibition, very current, an unmissable event for all those who are interested in the history and evolution of visual culture.
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