Burns Archive Exhibition Reviewed in The New Yorker

Goings On About Town: Art

Reed Bontecou

Bontecou, the head surgeon at a Washington, D.C., Army hospital during the Civil War, photographed wounded soldiers to document their injuries and treatment. His sepia-toned albumen prints were mounted in the elegant oval formats typical of the period’s popular carte-de-visite portraits, and his subjects do their best to strike a formal pose while half dressed and badly hurt. In the nearly fifty small examples here, grave young men display amputated limbs, bullet wounds, missing fingers, and disfigured faces. But Bontecou’s sympathy turns what could be mere medical curiosities into true portraits—complicated, touching, and unsettling. Through Nov. 12.

Through November 12
24 W. 57th St., New York, NY


New York State Museum Exhibits Historic African American Photos from The Burns Archive

Shadow and Substance: African American Images from the Burns Archive

Saturday, October 15, 2011 - Saturday, March 31, 2012

New York State Museum Photography Gallery
Cultural Education Center, Madison Avenue, Albany, NY
Monday - Saturday, 9:30 AM - 5:00 PM
Closed Sundays, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's Day
The NYS Museum is free. Donations are accepted at the door.

ALBANY, NY.- Shadow and Substance: African American Images from The Burns Archive -- opened at the New York State Museum October 15, showcasing rarely-seen photographs from one of the largest private photography collections in the world.

Open through March 31, 2012 in the Photography Gallery, the exhibition allows the viewer to perceive how African-Americans were seen by others and how they wished to be seen. These images do not tell a complete story of the past, but their eloquent shadows provide unique glimpses into the lives of African-Americans over the past 160 years.

The 113 images in Shadow and Substance include portraits, snapshots and photographs of celebration, tragedy and quiet joy, work and family, strength and perseverance. From early images of slaves and Civil War soldiers to new voters and political activists, the exhibition is filled with illustrations of achievement and shocking evidence of intolerance. Some images may not be suitable for young children.

The images were culled from the comprehensive Burns Archive of Historic Vintage Photographs that include specializations in medical and health care, death and dying, sports and recreation, in addition to images of African-Americans. The collection was amassed by Dr. Stanley B. Burns, an ophthalmologist, collector and curator in New York City who was the founding donor for several photography collections, including those of the J. Paul Getty Museum and the Bronx Museum of the Arts. Burns has authored several books including “A Morning’s Work: Medical Photographs from the Burns Archive & Collection, 1843-1939”; “Sleeping Beauty: Memorial Photography in America” and “Forgotten Marriage: The Painted Tintype and Decorative Frame, 1860-1910.”

The traveling exhibition is organized by the Indiana State Museum and curated by Dr. Modupe Labode, assistant professor of history and public scholar of African-American History and Museum Studies at Indiana University.


RECEPTION TONIGHT: Masterpieces of Civil War Portraiture at The Robert Anderson Gallery

Thomas Yourall, Private Company C, 3rd US Artillery

Reception Oct 6, 6-8pm. 

Robert Anderson Gallery Presents: 
Reed Bontecou: Masterpieces of Civil War Portraiture from the Burns Collection.

Robert Anderson Gallery
24 West 57th Street, Suite 503
New York, NY, 10019

On View Through Nov 12, 2011  
Hours: 11am -6pm, Tues - Saturday