A new exhibition of photographic luminaries invites visitors to lose themselves in a variety of cloud formations, from fluffy to enticing to intriguing to menacing. Cloudscapes: Photographs from the Collection, opening Feb. 4, features work by some of the masters of the medium, including Alfred Stieglitz, Paul Strand, Laura Gilpin, Eliot Porter, and Edward Weston. Also featured more recent images by Paul Caponigro, William Clift, Robert and Shana ParkeHarrison, and Jim Stone.
While the landscape of New Mexico holds great attraction for photographers, its skies and their abundance of dramatic cloud formations also draw artists’ eyes. With an emphasis on New Mexico views, the show brings forward more than 25 images of this popular subject while also examining them in the context of Stieglitz’s influential cloud series, Equivalents. Taken during summer visits to his family retreat in Lake George, N.Y., these studies of clouds allowed the artist to explore a more subjective aspect of photography. Photographer Jim Stone, based in Albuquerque, makes humorous reference to the series in his 1976 piece, subtitled Equivalent Alaska Cloud.
Artists have portrayed clouds in their work not only for their interesting and ever-changing shapes, but also as symbols, whether to convey the power and unpredictability of nature or to express human emotions such as loneliness, unrest, freedom, or happiness. An unusual trio of images by Laura Gilpin reflects the time she spent living on a Navajo reservation by depicting the “He” rain, the “She” rain, and a rainbow in between. Eliot Porter used color film to beautiful effect in capturing the sunsets near his studio in Tesuque. The contemporary artistic pair Robert and Shana ParkeHarrison refer to environmental issues in their picture of clouds, titled Patching the Sky.
“Cloudscapes gives us a wonderful opportunity to remind visitors of the many stellar photographs in the collection,” said exhibition curator Katherine Ware. “Photographs are very light sensitive and cannot remain on long-term view like paintings and sculpture. We hope our guests will see some famous favorites as well as discovering some new images.”The museum is pleased to present this group of photographs as part of a museum-wide installation of its permanent collection.To download high-resolution images from the exhibit, click on "Go to related images," below.