Bowdoin College Museum of Art
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Exhibitions
After Atget: Todd Webb Photographs New York and Paris
October 28, 2011 - January 29, 2012
Halford Gallery
Bernard and Barbro Osher Gallery
Todd Webb, "Rue Alesia, Paris (Oscar billboards)", 1951, Gelatin silver print on paper, © Todd Webb, Courtesy of Evans Gallery and Estate of Todd & Lucille Webb, Portland, Maine

This focused exhibition is devoted to the early street photography of American Todd Webb (1905-2000). Born in Detroit, Todd Webb first took up photography in the late 1930s, enrolling in a workshop with Ansel Adams. When he enlisted in the Navy in 1942, he entrusted close friend Harry Callahan with his equipment, later collecting it in New York after his discharge. Webb had written to Alfred Stieglitz while in the service, and hastened to meet him upon his return. Through Stieglitz, Webb was introduced to Beaumont Newhall, who would curate his first exhibition, I See a City, in 1946.

After Atget considers the body of work Webb produced in New York and Paris between 1946 and 1952 and it does so in light of his self-professed kinship with Eugène Atget (1857–1927). Heralded for the “pictorial commentary” that distinguished his work from the “touristic” output of other contemporary photographers, Webb distilled his objectives by looking to Atget. The selection of photographs in this exhibition attests to Webb’s eye for the anecdotal, but also his uniquely graphic sensibility, and, encoded within it, his sensitivity to the post-war ethos of both cities – the effects of the Marshall Plan in Paris, for instance, and the struggles of the New York working classes to sustain their wartime gains. Beyond bringing much-deserved attention to Todd Webb, After Atget examines his work within the context of negotiations as to the character of mid-century documentary photography.
This exhibition is presented with support from the Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation.  

For more information about Todd Webb, please visit http://www.toddwebbphotographs.com.

Todd Webb, 3rd. Ave, New York ("Welcome Home Nickie... Joie"), 1945, Gelatin silver print on paper, © Todd Webb, Courtesy of Evans Gallery and Estate of Todd & Lucille Webb, Portland, Maine
Todd Webb, New York, Number Series (40), 1946, Vintage gelatin silver print on paper, © Todd Webb, Courtesy of Evans Gallery and Estate of Todd & Lucille Webb, Portland, Maine

Todd Webb, Left Bank Courtyard, Paris ("Eisenhower Go Home"), 1948, Vintage gelatin silver print on paper, © Todd Webb, Courtesy of Evans Gallery and Estate of Todd & Lucille Webb, Portland, Maine
Todd Webb, Cour de Commerce, Paris (3 people in alleyway), 1948, Vintage gelatin silver print on paper, © Todd Webb, Courtesy of Evans Gallery and Estate of Todd & Lucille Webb, Portland, Maine

Todd Webb, Paris (shoes in window), 1950, Vintage gelatin silver print on paper, © Todd Webb, Courtesy of Evans Gallery and Estate of Todd & Lucille Webb, Portland, Maine