In the mid 1800s, photographic pioneers established new technical processes which enabled the capture of "light pictures" – unlike any seen before. Soon, photographers, painters and many others argued about the scientific and artistic aspects of this new medium: was it only a documentary tool, limited to reproducing the visual world, or could it create its own artistic expression?

Reaching beyond mirroring the readily observed, 20th century photographers, working with a multitude of concepts, media, and processes, entered an extraordinarily fruitful period of experimentation. __________________________________________________________________________

The photographs presented in this virtual exhibit are curated from the Permanent Collection of Joy of Giving Something (JGS) – the not-for-profit organization administering the Forward Thinking Museum. JGS’ photography collection holds more than 10,000 works, spanning the entire history of the medium. Our goal is to provide easy online access to the collection and to encourage your further exploration of important photographic work.


Christian Schad, László Moholy-Nagy, Lotte Jacobi, and Adam Fuss explored and pushed the limits of the photogram. Other artists in the exhibit pursued techniques such as solarization, multiple exposure, photomontage, Kirlian photography and light projection. Even methods for recording radiation outside the visible spectrum (such as infrared photography and X-ray imaging), became in the hands of Maurice Tabard and Dain L. Tasker, mediums for creative expression.

As the work of Weegee, Brassaï and others presented on the following pages demonstrate, photographic experimentation need not rely on specialized imaging equipment or image manipulation in the darkroom. Creative cropping and unusual framing of viewpoints can emphasize abstract qualities of an image, resulting in work both descriptive and evocative.

–Peter Fahrni  Director, Forward Thinking Museum