Monday, October 16, 2006

For Photography, Extreme Home Makeover

By PHILIP GEFTER @ New York Times
Los Angeles

When the J. Paul Getty Museum decided to quadruple its exhibition space for photographs, the obvious goal was to trumpet the breadth of its holdings in the medium: some 31,000 works acquired in a mere two decades.

Yet at a museum best known for Greek pots and old master paintings, the move was also a way of proclaiming the Getty’s relevance to the here and now — and more broadly, affirming photography’s global importance as an art form.

“Photography is our bridge to the modern world,” said Michael Brand, the director of the museum, whose new Center for Photographs opens to the public on Oct. 24. “It’s our only link to the 20th century.”

Photography has become a churning art-world industry: more Chelsea galleries are devoted to photographs; the number of photography books published has dramatically increased; the value of photographs sold at auction annually has doubled since 2001; and even the average size of photographic prints has grown.


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