Unsung Photographers and Frederick Sommer’s Surrealist Vision at the Philadelphia Museum of Art

A selection from David Lebe's "Scribble" series, courtesy the Philadelphia Museum of Art

Anyone who tells you that photography isn’t art probably hasn’t been to an exhibition. The Philadelphia Museum of Art is currently hosting two incredible photography exhibitions: Frederick Sommer Photographs and Common Ground: Eight Philadelphia Photographers in the 1960s and 1970s . Frederick Sommer (1905-1999), a surrealist photographer throughout the ’40s and well into the ’70s, is probably best known for his series of jarring yet sometimes hilarious images of rearranged chicken bits, aptly named “Chicken Parts”, which are on display.

Common Ground: Eight Philadelphia Photographers in the 1960s and 1970s should hit closer to home for many of you, as it features some of Philadelphia’s best unsung photographers. The exhibit displays the work of students, faculty and founders of Philadelphia’s burgeoning photography schools such as the Philadelphia College of Art (now known as The University of the Arts ) as well as Temple University’s Tyler School of Art (1968), which is now housed within Temple’s Main Campus.

The exhibit features the work of artists like Ray Metzker, Sol Mednick and Will Larson who explored time-lapse exposure. Most visually striking, however, is David Lebe’s “Scribble” series (featured above) in which he experimented with light drawing, outlining figures with a flashlight during the development process. Overall, Common Ground is an exhibition about experimentation and variety within the photographic community and is successful at displaying Philadelphia’s lesser known artists of the time.

Frederick Sommer Photographs will be hosted until January 3rd, 2010 in the Main Building while Common Ground is on display until January 31st, 2010 in the Perelman Building. In other words, you have a lot of time to check them out, so get to it. Also, be sure to check out the museum’s website for future events featuring the work of both exhibitions.

Philadelphia Museum of Art
26th Street and the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, Philadelphia, PA 19130
(215) 684-7860


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