Reflections on the Everyday

Reflections on the Everyday

It was an encounter with the portraits of British pioneer Julia Margaret Cameron (1815-1879) at a 1999 MoMA exhibition that inspired Canadian Jack Lazare to fall in love with photography and to begin assembling an outstanding private collection, including many major 20th century figures. Now, 14 albumen prints by Cameron – who, over a brief 11-year career used the wet collodion process to create portraits of family members and major Victorian figures including Alfred Lord Tennyson and Charles Darwin as well as allegorical and literary scenes – sit alongside mostly contemporary images in Of Individuals and Places: Photographs from the Lazare Collection.

The presentation comprises images that depict real or imaginary places, or indeed those in an ambiguous position between the two. “The photos challenge us with their emotive power and the subjects they confront, which draw us into their universality,” says Montreal Museum of Fine Arts’ curator Diane Charbonneau. They include the urban landscapes of José Manuel Ballester, as well as Edward Burtynsky, who is best-known for sweeping panoramas of places that have been compromised and modified by industry, from mineworkings to China’s Three Gorges Dam. There are also mises en scène from Carlos and Jason Sanchez and interiors by Nicolas Baier, Jiagang Chen and Trine Søndergaard.

The cinematic and deeply enigmatic works of American artist Todd Hido (b. 1968) are also included – photographs which are both compelling and melancholy in their overall effect, drawing upon memories of vanished suburban neighbourhoods from a 1970s childhood, places which no longer exist in reality, evoking the surreal film narratives of David Lynch and Alfred Hitchcock. Nicolas Dhervillers and Astrid Kruse Jensen share this interest in ethereal spaces. (The featured image, taken by Jensen, was published in Aesthetica in 2013 from The Construction of Memories series.)

Lee Friedlander (b. 1934) is also a seminal artist included in the show, one who focused on picturing the “social landscape” of the 20th century, using hand-held 35mm cameras and captured reflections in store-fronts to posters, signs and open roads. This intimate and personalised subject matter transition is further explored in pieces from other wellknown figures such as Saul Leiter, Danny Lyon, Sarah Moon, Larry Towell, Albert Watson and Laurence von der Weid.

Meanwhile, the contemporary nature of the portrait and its power to reveal states of mind is considered in a gallery compiling the contrasting styles of Elliot Erwitt, Angela Grauerholz, Isaac Julien, Richard Learoyd, Nelli Palomäki, Alexander Rodchenko and August Sander. In counterpoint to this, works by Tina Barney, Nan Goldin, Adam Jeppesen, Philip-Lorca diCorcia, Hannah Starkey and Thomas Struth evoke the deep complexity of human relationships.

On view at Montreal Museum of Fine Arts until 28 April. Find out more here. 

1. Astrid Kruse Jensen, Hide and seek. From the series, The Construction Of Memories.