The Window — Where Photography Began

Sep 30, 2013 11:17PM

“While the window’s ties to picture making have been extensively discussed in theoretical studies of painting and drawing, it is striking that relatively little has been said about the subject with regard to the history of photography. At the window was, in many respects, where photography began. For practical reasons the window was one of the earliest photographic subjects. The photographs had to be taken out of or near a window—the light source—in order for an exposure to be made. But the window is also linked in a more symbolic way to the mechanics of photography: it is the ‘opening’ or the ‘viewfinder’ through which images are seen and recorded in the camera, like the ‘opening’ in the wall of its ancestor, the camera obscura. As such, a photograph of a window is a representation of how a camera sees, a ‘view of a view.’ By bringing together key works, arranged thematically rather than chronologically and presenting pairings within broader stylistic movements, this book sets out to examine the motif of the window as a symbol of photographic vision.” 

Excerpt from The Window in Photographs, which accompanies At the Window: The Photographer’s View, on view from October 1, 2003 to January 5, 2014 at the Getty.

Take the exhibition home and read more.