Visual Revolutions

Visual Revolutions

In the digital age, capturing images instantly is a part of everyday life. Yet, in 1947 – long before the dawn of the camera phone – Polaroid offered consumers an accessible method of documenting the immediate landscape. Used by professionals and amateurs alike, the cameras gave a new sense of ease and speed to a format previously defined by a lengthy “shoot and wait” approach. Despite significant technological developments, the format continues to be relevant into the present day, as a significant resurgence manifests in popular culture and on apps such as Instagram.

The Polaroid Project, a touring exhibition opening at Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe, Hamburg, provides an overview of the corporation’s history alongside the work of over 100 photographers. The artworks are complemented by rare artefacts from the company’s archives – including prototypes and influential early forms of image-making – in order to track founder Edwin Land’s (b. 1901) working process. Observed together, the objects and photographs unearth the symbiotic relationship between Polaroid and its users, exemplifying how the new media enabled artists and individuals to see the world from a new, instantaneous perspective.

Highlighting the experimental freedom introduced by the new technology, the show brings together playful works by well-known practitioners including Ellen Carey (b. 1952), Chuck Close (b. 1940), Marie Cosindas (b. 1925), Barbara Crane (b. 1928), David Hockney (b. 1937), Robert Rauschenberg (b. 1925) and Andy Warhol (b. 1928). The featured image, Charles Jourdan 1978, by Guy Bourdin, (b. 1928) sums up the collection, providing a glimpse into the practitioner’s signature self-reflective style whilst highlighting the immediacy of form. By mirroring the ever-quickening pace of life, The Polaroid Project is a prime example of the socially responsive potential of new technologies.

Until 17 June. Find out more here.

1. Guy Bourdin (1928–1991), Charles Jourdan 1978, 1978, C-Print, 88,9 x 116,8 cm © The Guy Bourdin Estate 2017 / Courtesy of Louise Alexander Gallery