Brought to Light

Photography and the Invisible, 1840-1900

Brought to Light

Étienne-Léopold Trouvelot, Direct electric spark obtained with a Ruhmkorff coil or Wimshurst machine, also known as "Trouvelot Figure"; 19th-century photograph; © Musée des arts et métiers, Conservatoire national des arts et métiers, Paris

Brought to Light

Josef Maria Eder and Eduard Valenta, Chamaeleon cristatus, 1896; photogravure; Albertina, Vienna, permanent loan of the Hhere Graphische Bundes-Lehr- und Versuchsanstalt, Vienna

Brought to Light

Hermann Schnauss, Electrograph of a brass wire gauge, 1900; albumen print; Albertina, Vienna, permanent loan of the Höhere Graphische Bundes-Lehr- und Versuchsanstalt, Vienna

Brought to Light

A. H. Binden, Lightning, 1888; gelatin silver print; Stephen White Collection II, Los Angeles

October 11, 2008 - January 04, 2009

Modern science and photography flowered simultaneously in the early 19th century, and photography was adopted as a scientific tool from the first years of its invention. Over the course of the century, scientists captured previously hidden realms, making pictures using the microscope and the telescope and using photography to analyze motion, see into faraway galaxies, and look inside the human body. Brought to Light includes examples of early scientific photography and invites you to imagine what pictures of the invisible might have meant at a time when the worlds revealed by contemporary technologies such as satellite imaging and PET scans were utterly unimaginable.


Brought to Light: Photography and the Invisible, 1840–1900 is organized by the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and is generously supported by the George Frederick Jewett Foundation.