At NYPL, Elizabeth Buerhmann Discovers the Empty Space of Modern Art

THE DAILY PIC: Did she prefer her shots before the copy got added?


THE DAILY PIC (#1373): It was hard to choose just one work to Pic from the wonderful show called “Public Eye: 175 Years of Sharing Photography”, now at the New York Public Library. But this scrapbook by the great American photographer Elizabeth Buehrmann especially caught my eye. Her volume includes (on the right) the original, spare photo that she shot for a 1917 ad, and then the ad itself, with all her lovely blank space filled in with copy. The pairing immediately reminded me of the few years I spent, before college, working in a commercial photo studio in Montreal: I remember loving the uncrowded photos we were asked to turn out, and hating the text-heavy ads they were turned into. Looking at Buehrman’s early version of the same pairing, I wondered if some of the spareness of classic modernist photos came when their makers realized the potential of the pre-text versions of their shots, and decided to go with them as finished works.

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