Print Friendly Version Bookmark and Share
April 18, 2017

GETTY MUSEUM PRESENTS THOMAS ANNAN: PHOTOGRAPHER OF GLASGOW


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 

 Download Images
 

MEDIA CONTACT:
Ali Sivak
Getty Communications
asivak@getty.edu
(310) 440-6473

GETTY MUSEUM PRESENTS THOMAS ANNAN: PHOTOGRAPHER OF GLASGOW

Exhibition features rarely exhibited images of Scotland and recently rediscovered works by the early social documentary photographer

Thomas Annan: Photographer of Glasgow

May 23 - August 13, 2017
at the J. Paul Getty Museum, Getty Center

 
Left: Piping across the Balfron Road (1859). Thomas Annan (Scottish, 1829 – 1887). Albumen silver print. Image: 20.9 x 28.6 cm (8 ¼ x 11 1/4 in.); Sheet: 38 x 48.5 cm (14 15/16 x 19 1/18 in.); Mat: 40.6 x 55.9 cm (16 x 22 in.). Lent by Glasgow Life (Mitchell Library Special Collections) on behalf of Glasgow City Council. Image © CSG CIC Glasgow Museums and Libraries Collection: The Mitchell Library, Special Collections
Right: High Street from College Open (1868 – 1871). Thomas Annan (Scottish, 1829 – 1887). Albumen silver print. Image: 40.5 x 54 cm (15 15/16 x 21 1/4 in.); Mat: 50.8 x 60.9 cm (20 x 24 in.). Canadian Centre for Architecture, Montréal. © Canadian Centre for Architecture, Montréal

 

LOS ANGELES – During the rise of industrialization in mid-19th century Scotland, Thomas Annan ranked as the preeminent photographer of Glasgow. For more than 25 years, he prodigiously recorded the people, the social landscape, and the built environment of the city during a period of rapid growth and change. Thomas Annan: Photographer of Glasgow, on view May 23-August 13, 2017 at the J. Paul Getty Museum, Getty Center, presents the first exhibition to survey Annan’s prolific career and legacy as both a photographer and printer via his engagement with Glasgow as his photographic subject.

The exhibition includes more than 100 photographs, the majority on loan to the Getty, providing a rare opportunity to view key series by this photographer in the United States. Among the works to be featured are recently rediscovered prints Annan made at the end of his career and numerous photographically illustrated books that demonstrate technical innovations he perfected and championed. Lending institutions include the Mitchell Library, Glasgow; National Galleries of Scotland, Edinburgh; and Canadian Centre for Architecture, Montreal.

“This exhibition is the first to explore Annan’s deep fascination with Glasgow and fully contextualize his contributions within the city’s history,” says Timothy Potts, director of the J. Paul Getty Museum. “His work effectively recorded the transformation of greater Glasgow over the course of several decades, during an era when this ‘second city of the empire’ flourished. Annan’s photographs underscore the notion of progress that dominated this era and directed urban growth in the 19th century.”

Thomas Annan, who opened his own photographic firm in Glasgow in 1857 and remained active until his death three decades later, worked at a time when the city’s population increased dramatically and industry neared its peak. Initially Annan garnered attention for work that ranged from studio portraiture and reproductions of artwork to landscapes, but he also quickly emerged as an important documentarian of Glasgow and its outskirts. Near the outset of his career, Annan was tasked with documenting the construction of a 35-mile long aqueduct—located in a picturesque wooded glen called the Trossachs—from Loch Katrine to Glasgow. His photographs reveal how this colossal feat of engineering impacted the scenic landscape of the Scottish countryside, underscoring the industrialization associated with this era in British history, as well as the somewhat tenuous relationship between man and the natural environment. Annan continued to record the development and effects of the aqueduct for more than two decades. One gallery in the exhibition explores his extensive commitment to the subject, featuring rare views from his 1859 documentation of the aqueduct scheme that will be on view for the first time since the 19th century.

Today, Annan is remembered principally for his haunting images of tenements and passageways, known as closes, slated for modification or demolition as a result of the Glasgow City Improvements Act of 1867. Considered a precursor of the social documentary tradition in photography, Annan’s Photographs of Old Closes and Streets series (1868-71) not only reveals the difficult living conditions of working-class residents of central Glasgow, but also suggests progress underway as a result of the Improvements Act.

Despite challenges posed by weather, sanitation, lighting, and the labor-intensive photographic equipment/process he employed, Annan produced highly detailed, enigmatic photographs of the closes and the tenement dwellers that are testament to his technical and artistic mastery. On view will be albumen silver prints from the Old Closes and Streets series, including an original glass plate negative and publications that feature the closes.

Throughout his career, Annan photographed construction efforts, engineering works, buildings, and other subjects that related to concurrent municipal initiatives. Among the civic projects that he documented, and that will be showcased in the exhibition, are the relocation of the University of Glasgow, the re-navigation of the River Clyde and the construction of Queen’s Dock at Glasgow harbor, and the beautification of Glasgow Cathedral. He also photographed numerous country estates and houses that were demolished or repurposed as part of the outward expansion of the city and the rising industrialist class. Transformation of the built environment in Glasgow during this time largely shaped the appearance of the city as we know it today, and Annan effectively documented this evolution.

Annan is also credited for promoting various photographic processes, specifically carbon printing and photogravure, for which he owned the licensing rights within Scotland. His legacy was extended by his eldest sons, James Craig and John, who worked as photographers and managed their father’s photographic firm upon his death. While James Craig pursued fine art photography and emerged as a leading figure in the Pictorialist movement, John carved out a steady career photographing architecture and industrial machinery in Glasgow. Their discrete areas of expertise reflected their father’s myriad interests and may have constituted the division of labor at the firm as well.

“Though a pioneer in his field, Annan has remained a relatively marginalized figure in the history of photography,” says Amanda Maddox, assistant curator of photographs at the J. Paul Getty Museum and curator of the exhibition. “This exhibition seeks to highlight the breadth of his output and the extent of his contributions to the medium, which we hope will prompt further scholarship and greater appreciation for this important 19th century practitioner.”

Thomas Annan: Photographer of Glasgow, on view May 23-August 13, 2017 at the J. Paul Getty Museum, Getty Center, will coincide with the presentation of Now Then: Chris Killip and the Making of In Flagrante. Together these exhibitions represent a century of industry in Britain, from its height to its demise. A scholarly publication that shares the title of the exhibition and is focused on Thomas Annan’s photographically illustrated books about Glasgow will be released by Getty Publications in spring 2017.

 
###

The J. Paul Getty Trust is an international cultural and philanthropic institution devoted to the visual arts that includes the J. Paul Getty Museum, the Getty Research Institute, the Getty Conservation Institute, and the Getty Foundation. The J. Paul Getty Trust and Getty programs serve a varied audience from two locations: the Getty Center in Los Angeles and the Getty Villa in Pacific Palisades.

The J. Paul Getty Museum collects Greek and Roman antiquities, European paintings, drawings, manuscripts, sculpture and decorative arts to 1900, as well as photographs from around the world to the present day. The Museum's mission is to display and interpret its collections, and present important loan exhibitions and publications for the enjoyment and education of visitors locally and internationally. This is supported by an active program of research, conservation, and public programs that seek to deepen our knowledge of and connection to works of art.

Visiting the Getty Center
The Getty Center is open Tuesday through Friday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. It is closed Mondays, and January 1, Thanksgiving Day and December 25. Admission to the Getty Center is always free. Parking is $15 per car, but reduced to $10 after 3 p.m. No reservation is required for parking or general admission. Reservations are required for event seating and groups of 15 or more. Please call (310) 440-7300 (English or Spanish) for reservations and information. The TTY line for callers who are deaf or hearing impaired is (310) 440-7305. The Getty Center is at 1200 Getty Center Drive, Los Angeles, California.

Same-day parking at both Museum locations (Getty Center and Getty Villa) is available for one fee through the Getty's Pay Once, Park Twice program. Visit the Museum Information Desk at the Center or the Villa to obtain a coupon good for same-day complimentary parking at the other site.

Additional information is available at www.getty.edu.
Sign up for e-Getty at www.getty.edu/subscribe to receive free monthly highlights of events at the Getty Center and the Getty Villa via e-mail, or visit www.getty.edu/360 for a complete calendar of public programs.
< back


You must be logged in to view this item.





This area is reserved for members of the news media. If you qualify, please update your user profile and check the box marked "Check here to register as an accredited member of the news media". Please include any notes in the "Supporting information for media credentials" box. We will notify you of your status via e-mail in one business day.