Bruce Museum Exhibit Celebrates 1930’s Groundbreaking Photographers

The Bruce Museum pays tribute to the early practitioners who elevated photography into an art form with “Photographic Revolutionaries of Group f/64: Works from the Bank of America Collection,” on view through April 28, 2024.

Brett Weston (American, 1911-1993) Dunes and Mountains, White Sands, New Mexico, 1945, printed 1947 Gelatin silver print, 7 ¾ x 9.0625 in. Bank of America Collection © Brett Weston. All rights reserved 2023/Bridgeman Images

Willard Van Dyke (American, 1906–1986) Monolith Cement Works, California, 1932, printed later Gelatin silver print, 9 ¼ x 7 ½ in. Bank of America Collection Estate of Willard Van Dyke

The exhibition celebrates the groundbreaking, young American photographers who banded together in the early 1930’s to promote a new vision for their craft and forever altered the public’s perception of photography as a visual medium.

Founded in 1932, Group f/64 was an informal association of San Francisco Bay Area photographers devoted to promoting a new direction in photography.

The group was established as a challenge to Pictorialism, which favored painterly, hand-manipulated, soft-focus prints, often made on textured papers. This small association of innovators named their organization Group f/64 after the large-format camera aperture that produces maximum depth of field, so that everything from the immediate foreground to the distant background is in sharp focus, yielding crisp, graphic compositions.

On November 15, 1932, works by the 11 original members of Group f/64, seven men and four women, were shown in a major exhibition at the M. H. de Young Memorial Museum in San Francisco.

“Photographic Revolutionaries of Group f/64: Works from the Bank of America Collection” features photographs by five of the most important members of the group: Ansel Adams, Imogen Cunningham, Willard Van Dyke, Brett Weston and Edward Weston.

Ansel Adams (American, 1902-1984) was one of the world’s most famous photographers during his lifetime and continues to be to this day. An artist, a teacher, a master of photographic technique, an author and a conservationist, Adams has influenced generations of American photographers.

Edward Weston (American, 1886-1958) is one of the greatest photographers of the 20th century. His carefully composed and printed images of nature and the human form continue to influence photographers today.

Imogen Cunningham (American, 1883-1976) was one of the first women to make a living as a photographer. Her impressive body of work—from evocative nudes to beautiful still lifes—and long career have garnered her fame throughout the world.

Willard Van Dyke (American, 1906-1986) began his distinguished career as a still photographer in San Francisco in 1928 and switched to documentary filmmaking in the late 1930s, producing such noteworthy films as “The City” in 1939, with Ralph Steiner.

Brett Weston (American, 1911-1993), the second of Edward Weston’s four sons, was an outstanding and well-regarded photographer in his own right built a reputation as a master printer.

“Photographic Revolutionaries of Group f/64: Works from the Bank of America Collection” has been loaned through the Bank of America Art in our Communities program.

“Bank of America is committed to supporting cultural institutions that not only advance the arts but make the arts more accessible to local communities in Southern Connecticut,” said Bill Tommins, president, Bank of America Southern Connecticut.

“Through our Art in Our Communities program, we invest in museums to help drive greater cultural understanding and access to influential works. In partnership with the Bruce Museum, we look forward to sharing this exhibition with museum goers from near and far.”

Located in Bruce Park overlooking Greenwich Harbor, the Bruce Museum is a community based, world-class institution that offers a changing array of exhibitions and educational programs to promote the understanding and appreciation of art and science.  

For over a century the Bruce Museum has delighted and engaged its visitors by presenting exceptional exhibitions in art, science, and the intersections between the two disciplines. Now recognized as ahead of its time when textile merchant Robert Moffat Bruce (1822-1909) conceived of the museum and bequeathed the building to the Town of Greenwich in 1908, the Museum is at the heart of contemporary efforts to bring together art and science, technology and creativity, creating moments of discovery and dialogue. The first exhibition at the Bruce Museum took place in 1912 and featured works by local artists known as the Greenwich Society of Artists, several of whom were members of the Cos Cob art colony. Their works formed the nucleus of the Museum‘s art holdings and continue to be a strength of a collection which has grown to focus on global art from 1850 to the present. Other strengths include Native American Art, modernist works on paper, and photography. Over the years, the community, through its generosity, has built the Museum’s varied collection to nearly 30,000 objects. Early Museum directors pursued a parallel development of the natural sciences, building strengths in the mineral and avian collections. 

In 2019, the AAM-accredited Museum broke ground on an ambitious expansion project, which took the building from 33,000 to over 70,000 square feet. The New Bruce features state-of-the-art exhibition, education, and community spaces, including: a changing gallery for art and five new permanent galleries in the new William L. Richter Art Wing; a changing gallery for science; a new permanent science exhibition, Natural Cycles Shape Our Land; three new classrooms in the Steven and Alexandra Cohen Education Wing; and a café, an auditorium, and grand hall. The new building now connects the Museum to its picturesque setting in Bruce Park in dramatic ways. The new Bruce campus will feature a sculpture-lined, landscaped walking path and inviting spaces for relaxation and contemplation—natural enhancements to Bruce Park and an anchoring connection to the retail hub of Greenwich Avenue. The grand opening of the new Bruce was on April 2, 2023.