Imogen Cunningham, Paris in the Sixties

January 17 – February 28, 2015

Imogen Cunningham Photography, Paris in the Sixties – Paris dans les années soixante;  Christopher Rauschenberg – Paris Changing: Revisiting Eugène Atget’s Paris; Judy Dater, Images of Imogen Cunningham

Exhibit Curators: Dave Christensen, Director, Harvey Milk Photo Center and Jane Reed, Photography Curator

Opening Reception: Saturday, January 17, 1–4 p.m.

Opening Remarks: 2 p.m.

  • Sandra S. Phillips, Senior Curator of Photography, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art,
  • Stéphane Ré, Attaché culturel, Consulat Général de France à San Francisco,
  • Jane Reed, Curator, & Dave Christensen, Director, Harvey Milk Photo Center

Dates: January 17 – February 28

Location: Harvey Milk Photo Center, 50 Scott St.

Viewing hours: Tues-Thursday, 4-8:30 p.m., Sat & Sunday noon–4:00 p.m.

Student Tours: Contact Dave Christensen, Director


The Harvey Milk Photo Center proudly presents the exhibition Imogen Cunningham: Paris in the Sixties, with exquisitely beautiful and subtle images of the City of Light. This body of images represents a unique moment in Imogen Cunningham’s life’s work. The exhibit was curated by Jane Reed in the mid 1990’s and toured internationally. Cunningham’s Parisian photographs were taken at a seminal time in Paris, just before the student uprisings of 1968 and they have not been seen in the Bay Area for more than twenty years. Compared to Cunningham’s other work, her Paris photos are a relatively unknown, but essential part of her oeuvre.

In Reed’s words, “Perhaps it is the quality of the quiet paradox that best describes Imogen Cunningham’s exquisite work over a life dedicated to photography. She is one of America’s most distinguished photographers, whose work, though well known, has not been given the critical attention or commentary that it deserves. Cunningham’s photographic career spanned a period of seventy-five years, from the early 1900’s to her death in 1976 at the age of ninety-three. Her persistence of vision and diverse range of subject matter have contributed many important icons to the history of photography.”

Best known for her more formal photographs of botanicals, nudes and industrial landscapes, there was another side of Imogen, which she began to explore in the 1960’s. She had always been both a practicing portrait photographer and a dedicated experimentalist. In her eighth decade, at an age when most people have long since retired, she became fascinated with street photography and made two consecutive steamship trips to Europe seeking new directions for her work. Her photographs from this period are an homage to a humanistic approach to photojournalism, illustrated by a casual immediacy, and a marked sense of humor. They provide a delightful exclamation point to her more carefully considered portraiture. Her street work began in San Francisco, and extended to include the photographs she produced in France. The photographs in Imogen Cunningham: Paris in the Sixties were rarely exhibited in her lifetime.

In conjunction with Imogen Cunningham’s work, we will have an exhibition of a selection of Paris Changing: Revisiting Eugène Atget’s Paris by photographer Christopher Rauschenberg who spent time in Paris re-photographing many of the images of Eugène Atget. Atget photographed Paris extensively in the early part of the twentieth century, creating a visual record of the city that served as an inspiration for many of the photographers that followed him. This exhibition explores Paris through the lenses of two photographers working decades apart.

Jane Reed, curator and Dave Christensen, Director of the Harvey Milk Photo Center are honored to bring these exhibitions of Paris back to light.

Dave Christensen, Director, Harvey Milk Photo Center,
Jane Reed, curator,

@ 2014 the Imogen Cunningham Trust