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Savannah, GA (July 13, 2018) Telfair Museums celebrates the work of four important photographers from its permanent collection in The Language of Vision: Early Twentieth-Century Photography exhibition opening August 17, 2018 at the Jepson Center.

Ralph Steiner (American, 1899–1986), Manuel Álvarez Bravo (Mexican, 1902–2002), Walker Evans (American, 1903–1975), and Helen Levitt (American, 1913–2009) all made significant advances in the medium of photography before 1945, a time when photography was still being questioned for its validity as an art form.

At the turn of the 20th century, most photography was overly romanticized, staged, or fulfilled a strictly documentary function. Connected historically and socially, the four artists in this exhibition instead employed straight photography, engaging with the camera’s technical capacity to capture what was in front of them without heavy manipulation in the darkroom. As cameras became more portable during their lifetimes, these photographers literally took to the streets to document modern life on film. While objectively depicting the people and places of their day, they also created images born of their own artistic insight, distinguished by subject matter, cropping, vantage point, lighting, and the types of cameras they used.

Although these artists photographed during much of the 20th century, their work from the 1920s through 1940s elevated the status of photography as a whole. All four demonstrated that while mechanically made, their photographs reflected the subtle expressiveness of the individual, a pivotal development in the genre of photography as a distinct visual art form.

“The constant influx of photographs in today’s world only serves to reveal how these photographers took enduring images that still stand the test of time and continue to reveal insights about the human condition,” says Erin Dunn, Assistant Curator at Telfair Museums.

This exhibition, on view through January 13, 2019, was curated by Erin Dunn, Telfair Museums’ assistant curator, and made possible by the generous support of Mrs. Robert O. Levitt.


About Telfair Museums

Opened in 1886, Telfair Museums is the oldest public art museum in the South and features a world-class art collection in the heart of Savannah’s National Historic Landmark District. The museum encompasses three sites: the Jepson Center for the Arts, the Owens-Thomas House, and the Telfair Academy. For more information, call 912-790-8800 or visit


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