Framing the West: Timothy O’Sullivan | Flickr Blog

O'Sullivan FRAMING THE WEST

Framing the West: The Survey Photographs of Timothy H. O'Sullivan

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  • Friday, February 26, 2010Who was Timothy H. O'Sullivan?Mention his name, and most won't have heard of him. To the extent that the 19th-century photographer is known at all, it's chiefly through his role as an apprentice to the famous Civil War photographer Matthew Brady. By the end of O'Sullivan's life (1840-1882), he had pretty much fallen off the art map. He stayed there for about 100 years. Over the past three decades or so, the cognoscenti have been trying to put him back on."Framing the West: The Survey Photographs of Timothy H. O'Sullivan" just might do it.That show, at the Smithsonian American Art Museum, takes 79 of O'Sullivan's best landscapes -- dryly evocative vistas of Utah, Nevada, Colorado and other Western states that he made while working as staff photographer for two survey expeditions -- and hangs them next to a half-dozen contemporary landscape photographs. The aesthetic similarity is striking.

    That's a very contemporary sensibility, and it helps explain why the artist has become the darling of so many photographers today. You'll find that same sensibility in "Nee Noshe Reservoir, Kiowa County, Colorado," a 1993 landscape from Eric Paddock, one of the six contemporary photographers whose work is sprinkled throughout "Framing the West." Like O'Sullivan's photos, there's a loneliness in Paddock's picture that belies the work's literal -- you might even say banal -- subject matter (in this case, an empty gravel road and trees). Placed near O'Sullivan's pictures, Paddock's photo has the effect of making O'Sullivan's look, well, modern. Frankly, it's a bit of a shock.

  • Enjoy a rare view of the American West as photographed by Timothy O’Sullivan in the late 1800s. O’Sullivan began his photography career as an apprentice to Mathew Brady, the famed U.S. Civil War photographer. The joint exhibition and publication “Framing the West: The Survey Photographs of Timothy H. O’Sullivan,” put together by The Library of Congress and the Smithsonian American Art Museum, contains incredible images from two government expeditions into the Western U.S.: the King survey of the 40th parallel and the Wheeler survey west of the 100th meridian.

    Enjoy a rare view of the American West as photographed by Timothy O’Sullivan in the late 1800s. O’Sullivan began his photography career as an apprentice to Mathew Brady, the famed U.S. Civil War photographer. The joint exhibition and publication “Framing the West: The Survey Photographs of Timothy H. O’Sullivan,” put together by The Library of Congress and the Smithsonian American Art Museum, contains incredible images from two government expeditions into the Western U.S.: the King survey of the 40th parallel and the Wheeler survey west of the 100th meridian.

  • Enjoy a rare view of the American West as photographed by Timothy O’Sullivan in the late 1800s. O’Sullivan began his photography career as an apprentice to Mathew Brady, the famed U.S. Civil War photographer. The joint exhibition and publication “Framing the West: The Survey Photographs of Timothy H. O’Sullivan,” put together by The Library of Congress and the Smithsonian American Art Museum, contains incredible images from two government expeditions into the Western U.S.: the King survey of the 40th parallel and the Wheeler survey west of the 100th meridian.

West Coast Frames - Custom Photo Frames

Framing the West argues that photography was intrinsic to British territorial expansion and settlement on the northwest coast. Williams shows how male and female settlers used photography to establish control over the territory and its indigenous inhabitants, as well as how native peoples eventually turned the technology to their own purposes. Photographs of the region were used to stimulate British immigration and entrepreneuralism, and imagies of babies and children were designed to advertise the population growth of the settlers. Although Indians were taken by Anglos to document their disappearing traditions and to show the success of missionary activities, many Indians proved receptive to photography and turned posing for the white man's camera to their own advantage. This book will appeal to those interested in the history of the West, imperialism, gender, photography, and First Nations/Native America.