Typology, Taxonomy and Seriality
Photography from The Walther Collection

Les Rencontres de la photographie d'Arles
7/7/2014 — 9/21/2014

ZH-386_Zhang_Family Tree_grid-of-6

About the exhibition

On the occasion of the 45th edition of Rencontres d'Arles, The Walther Collection presents Typology, Taxonomy and Seriality, the first exhibition from the collection that brings together photography by artists from Africa, China, Japan, Europe, and North America. Curated by Brian Wallis, the exhibition investigates how the organization of photographs into systematic sequences or typologies has affected modern visual culture.

Vp 2378 Walthercollection Unidentifiedphotographer Daguerreotypistsdisplay Ca1850
Unidentified photographers, "Daguerreotypist's Display," ca. 1850

Throughout the modern era, photography has been deployed to catalog the world and its people. Standardized daguerreotype portraits, occupational and performative tintypes, cartes de visite depicting entertainers or ethnographic types, and criminal mugshots, were all efforts to inventory and monitor social normativity within emerging industrial economies and regimes. Driven by a belief in the scientific objectivity of photographic evidence, the logics utilized to classify photographs—in groups and categories or sequences of identically organized images—also shape our visual consciousness. At the same time, individual photographers have pursued a subjective and even skeptical approach to the social construction of photographic meaning, which they demonstrate in typological grids, temporal serial sequences, and collected images of specific cultural patterns.

Mb 2140 Walthercollection Bacigalupomartina Gulu Grid 10 72Dpi
Martina Bacigalupo, Gulu Real Art Studio, 2011–12

Many modernist photographic investigations into social representation and individual identity have employed the structuring devices of typology, taxonomy, and seriality. Just as German photographer Karl Blossfeldt precisely ordered plant specimens, August Sander, in his seminal project "Antlitz der Zeit" (The Face of Our Time) (1929), organized his subjects into social groups, genders, and generations, highlighting both the diversity of the German nation and the individuality of each sitter.

As 481 Walthercollection Augustsander Antlitzderzeit Row5S
August Sander, "Antlitz der Zeit" (The Face of Our Time), 1910–29

Echoing this structural approach, both Richard Avedon's "The Family" (1976) and Accra Shepp's "Occupying Wall Street" (2011–12) create tightly organized series of individual portraits that, in very different ways, highlight the demonstrations and manipulations of political power within communal identity.

Acs 1842 Accra Shepp Occupying Wall Street 72Dpi
Accra Shepp, "Occupying Wall Street," 2011–12

The expansive diversity of works in Typology, Taxonomy and Seriality broadly illustrates significant global developments in contemporary photography, finding precedents in the typological organizations of key historical photographers, while looking forward to the applications of these rational models in 21st century image-making.

2014 07 Rencontres Arles Install View 01 Florian Holzherr
Installation views © Florian Holzherr
2014 07 Rencontres Arles Install View 02 Florian Holzherr
2014 07 Rencontres Arles Install View 03 Florian Holzherr

Artworks on display

    Artists on display

    About Les Rencontres de la photographie d'Arles

    Established in 1969, the Rencontres d'Arles photography fair takes place every summer in Arles, France, with over sixty exhibitions presented at many of the city's exceptional heritage sites. As an annual hub for major galleries, museums, collectors, scholars, and artists, Rencontres d'Arles has been a major influence in disseminating the best of global photography and fostering contemporary creative talents.


    Les Rencontres d'Arles
    34 Rue du Docteur Fanton
    13200 Arles
    +33 4 90 96 76 06

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