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Friday February 7, 2020
Tags for: The Cleveland Museum of Art Presents PROOF: Photography in the Era of the Contact Sheet
  • Press Release

The Cleveland Museum of Art Presents PROOF: Photography in the Era of the Contact Sheet

exterior of the CMA building

Special exhibition features rare photographs of iconic celebrities, including Marilyn Monroe, the Beatles and Groucho Marx, as well as historical moments

Cleveland (February 7, 2020) — Contact proofs, or contact sheets, were vital to the practice of photography until digital technology made them obsolete. Photographers who used roll film first saw positive images on the contact sheet, chose which frames to enlarge and kept the sheet as a record. PROOF: Photography in the Era of the Contact Sheet  features approximately 180 works from the collection of Clevelanders Mark Schwartz and Bettina Katz that highlight the aims and methods of a broad range of photographers from the second half of the 20th century. The free exhibition presents key works by leading figures, including Diane Arbus, Richard Avedon, Harry Benson, Harry Callahan, Robert Frank, Philippe Halsman, Irving Penn and Albert Watson, as well as Schwartz’s friends Arnold Newman, Larry Fink and Emmet Gowin. Celebrate the opening of PROOF: Photography in the Era of the Contact Sheet  at MIX: Cupid on Friday, February 7. The free exhibition will be on view through April 12, 2020, in the Kelvin and Eleanor Smith Foundation Exhibition Hall.  

“Contact sheets offer a glimpse into the working mind of a photographer,” said William Griswold, director of the Cleveland Museum of Art. “Our late trustee Mark Schwartz and his wife, Bettina Katz, assembled an extraordinary collection of contact sheets by some of the greatest photographers of the 20th century. It is an exciting privilege for us to be able to share these rare works with the public.”  

PROOF: Photography in the Era of the Contact Sheet  presents a broad range of functions, from working documents to fully realized works of art. As the contact sheet became indispensable, many photographers recognized the rich aesthetic potential of an array of images—all similar, each different. Contact sheets were usually hidden from public view, but some were deliberately printed and presented as independent works of art. Many of those are not contact prints but enlargements, which encouraged a practice that gave rise to the self-contradictory term enlarged contact sheet.  

“For half a century contact sheets were so essential to photography that no one gave them a second thought. Thanks to the passion of Mark Schwartz and Bettina Katz, we can explore them in some depth for the first time—and there are many intriguing surprises,” said Peter Galassi, guest curator and former chief curator of photography at the Museum of Modern Art.

PROOF: Photography in the Era of the Contact Sheet  features 11 sections that take viewers through the photographer’s creative process and describe the subject matter on view. Please view the press kit for this information and a selection of visual highlights.  

CONTACT SHEET: After a roll of film was developed, the negatives were cut into strips and printed by contact. The 36 exposures of a roll of 35 mm film or the 12 exposures of 2¼ inch film fit comfortably on an 8 x 10 inch sheet of paper. With an 8 x 10 inch enlarger, the same array of negatives could produce a so-called enlarged contact, often measuring 16 x 20 or 20 x 24 inches.

Admission to PROOF: Photography in the Era of the Contact Sheet is FREE. Tickets to MIX: Cupid are $10 in advance and $15 the day of the event. CMA members are admitted free. 

Complementary Programming

Gallery Talk: PROOF 
Sunday, February 9, noon
Tuesday, February 11, noon
Free; ticket required. Space is limited.
Kelvin and Eleanor Smith Foundation Exhibition Hall

Andrew Cappetta, manager of collection and exhibition programs, discusses how photographers crafted images of celebrities like Marilyn Monroe and the Beatles. After the talk, see Monroe in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. 

Artist’s View Gallery Talk: PROOF 
Wednesday, March 4, 6 p.m.
Free; ticket required. Space is limited.
Kelvin and Eleanor Smith Foundation Exhibition Hall

Photographer Sophie Schwartz, daughter of collectors Mark Schwartz and Bettina Katz, discusses the importance of the contact sheet in the darkroom process and offers a personal reflection on works in the exhibition. 

Gallery Talk: PROOF 
Sunday, March 22, noon 
Free; ticket required. Space is limited.
Kelvin and Eleanor Smith Foundation Exhibition Hall 

Andrew Cappetta, manager of collection and exhibition programs, reveals how photographs play with reality and illusion. After the talk, see a photographer’s own struggle with reality in Michelangelo Antonioni’s film classic Blow-Up. 

Gallery Talk: PROOF 
Wednesday, April 8, 6 p.m.
Free; ticket required. Space is limited.
Kelvin and Eleanor Smith Foundation Exhibition Hall

Stephanie Foster, lead interpretive planner, reveals how photographs play with reality and illusion. 

 

Film

Marilyn x 4 series

Gentlemen Prefer Blondes
Sunday, February 9, 1:30 to 3:05 p.m.
Tuesday, February 11, 1:45 to 3:20 p.m.
Morley Lecture Hall
$10, CMA members $7

Two gold-digging showgirls search for potential husbands during a transatlantic crossing in this iconic musical comedy. Marilyn sings “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend.”

At noon in the PROOF exhibition, Andrew Cappetta presents a gallery talk about how photographers crafted the images of celebrities like Marilyn Monroe. Free; ticket required. Space is limited.

Some Like It Hot
Friday, February 14, 6:45 to 8:45 p.m.
Sunday, February 16, 1:30 to 3:30 p.m.
Morley Lecture Hall
$10, CMA members $7

In this hysterical comedy classic, two 1920s Chicago jazz musicians who accidentally witness the Saint Valentine’s Day Massacre dress in drag and hide out in an all-women’s orchestra.

Bus Stop
Tuesday, February 18, 1:45 to 3:25 p.m.
Friday, February 21, 7 to 8:40 p.m.
Morley Lecture Hall
$10, CMA members $7

A clueless rodeo cowboy falls for and kidnaps a saloon singer in this romantic comedy-drama that proved that Marilyn Monroe could act.

The Misfits
Sunday, February 23, 1:30 to 3:35 p.m.
Tuesday, February 25, 1:45 to 3:50 p.m.
Morley Lecture Hall
$10, CMA members $7

Playwright Arthur Miller (Death of a Salesman) penned this modern Western that was the final movie of both Clark Gable and Marilyn Monroe. In it, a Reno divorcee becomes involved with three down-and-out cowboys rounding up wild mustangs in the Nevada desert.

Blow-Up
Friday, March 20, 7 to 8:50 p.m.
Sunday, March 22, 1:30 to 3:20 p.m.
Morley Lecture Hall
Special admission $12, CMA members $9

In this “mod” masterpiece set in swinging 1960s London, a fashion photographer accidentally captures possible evidence of a murder in one of his outdoor shots. 

On Sunday, March 22, at noon in the PROOF exhibition, Andrew Cappetta presents a gallery talk about how photographs play with reality and illusion. Free; ticket required. Space is limited.

Support provided by

Fred and Laura Ruth Bidwell

Sally and Sandy Cutler

Viki and Al Rankin

Contact the Museum's Media Relations Team:
(216) 707-2261
marketingandcommunications@clevelandart.org