Masterworks of Modern Photography

The Thomas Walther Collection at The Museum of Modern Art, New York




John Gutmann, Class, 1935, gelatin silver print, 22.3 x 19.2 cm, The Museum of Modern Art, New York Thomas Walther Collection. The Family of Man Fund, © Center for Creative Photography, Arizona Board of Regents Digital Image © 2021 The Museum of Modern Art, New York/Scala, Florence

The creative possibilities explored through photography were never richer or more varied than in the years between the two world wars, when photographers tested the medium with unmatched imaginative fervor. This moment of inventive approaches to documentary, abstract, and architectural subjects is dramatically captured in the more than three hundred and fifty photographs that constitute the Thomas Walther Collection at The Museum of Modern Art. The Museum acquired these photographs from Thomas Walther’s private collection, which includes exceptionally striking prints by towering figures in the field alongside lesser-known treasures by more than one hundred other practitioners. This exhibition also highlights the artists whose work Walther collected in depth, including André Kertész, Germaine Krull, Franz Roh, Willi Ruge, Maurice Tabard, Umbo, and Edward

Made on the street and in the studio, intended for avant-garde exhibitions and the printed page, these photographs provide unique insight into the radical objectives of their creators. The transatlantic circulation of ideas, images, objects, and people stimulated vibrant dialogues concerning the transformation of vision, and the varied uses and capacities of photography. Organized to explore thematic connections between the works, the exhibition testifies to the dynamic experience of modernity through genres such as portraiture, expressions of the urban experience, and techniques of estrangement and experimentation, including unfamiliar points of view and distortions. Presenting this collection together in Europe for the first time, Masterworks of Modern Photography 1900–1940. The Thomas Walther Collection at The Museum of Modern Art, New York tells the story of this innovative chapter in photography’s history.


Masterworks of Modern Photography 1900-1940. The Thomas Walther Collection at the Museum of Modern Art, New York