When a number of artists began producing gigantic prints in the 1980s, our sense of the scale of photography was forever altered. As photography’s growing recognition as a fine art and its elevated stature led to higher prices, more artists could afford to experiment with costly new processes to produce larger works that rivaled paintings and sculptures. Large-scale photographs offered the opportunity to explore new, immersive relationships between the viewer and the image, an impetus that drives our own exploration into three-dimensional and virtual reality imaging.
BIG presents eight spectacular, monumentally scaled photographs made between 1986 and 2014, all but one of which are from the museum’s collection. Many photographs read well in reproduction, but not these works, which must be seen in person and insist on being considered as objects as well as images. Together the eight prints demonstrate how scale can alter a photograph’s meaning, as well as its physical relationship to the viewer and even the very experience of looking.
The exhibition includes pieces by Andreas Gursky and Thomas Struth, who were part of the small group of German photographers who pioneered fine art explorations of commercial color printing and mounting processes and digital manipulation and enhancement. Making their museum debut in this exhibition are large-scale photographs by Richard Barnes, Adam Broomberg and Oliver Chanarin, Clegg & Guttmann, Kevin Jerome Everson and Michael Loderstedt, Laura McPhee, and Vik Muniz.