About the AGO's Photography Collection
Since the AGO made a commitment in 1978 to collect photography in depth, its collection has grown significantly in numbers and in distinction, through major gifts and select purchases. The collection spans the history of the medium from the 1840s to the present day, and now includes more than 50,000 works. Highlights from the 19th century include calotypes by British photographer Linnaeus Tripe, who photographed in Burma and in British India in the 1850s, heliogravures by 19th-century French photographer Édouard Baldus, and important holdings of the work of Charles Nègre.
The collection also features a strong group of prints from the 1920s and 1930s by Canadian pictorialist Melvin O. Hammond, as well as the complete repertoire of E. Hannel Cassidy, who first worked in Japan, then Canada, and then with Condé Nast in New York in the 1940s. The work of Michel Lambeth, Canada’s leading documentary photographer from the 1950s and 1960s, represents another area of strength.
Recent additions have enhanced the profile of the collection, in particular the superb group of nearly one thousand prints by renowned Czech photographer Josef Sudek and the extraordinary Klinsky Agency collection of photographs, assembled from German illustrated magazines and presses during the 1930s. In addition to illuminating the reportage work of Eric Borchert, Alfred Eisenstaedt, John Gutmann, Lueders, P. Roth, Willi Ruge, Ilse Steinhoff, Walter Sussmann and others associated with the leading photographic agencies at the time, the Klinsky collection further reveals the shift in German society at a critical period in history.
The AGO has obtained nearly 11,500 photographs from Informations et Documents: Services Américains d’information et de relations culturelles, a collection assembled in Paris from 1954 to 1978 representing the work of more than 50 photographers, including Eve Arnold, Edouard Boubat, Henri-Cartier Bresson, Raymond Depardon, Willy Ronis, Burk Uzzle and Sabine Weiss. The Lodz Ghetto collection of more than 2,000 photographs and 3,000 negatives by Henryk Ross, one of two official Jewish photographers in the ghetto during World War II, bears testament to life during the war.
The permanent collection includes fine examples of the work of Eugène Atget, Brassaï, Edward Burtynsky, Julia Margaret Cameron, Walker Evans, Larry Fink, Robert Flaherty, Alexander Henderson, George Hunter, Lotte Jacobi, Geoffrey James, Ida Kar, André Kertész, Arnaud Maggs, Richard Maynard, Arnold Newman, William Notman, Irving Penn, Cindy Sherman, Stephen Shore, John Vanderpant, Roman Vishniac, Jeff Wall, William Wegman and many other photographers representing both historical and contemporary practices.
The collection also features unique examples of photographic applications on hand-crafted objects, and compelling vernacular images representing a collective social and material consciousness of travel views, family histories and events depicting World War I, the latter an extraordinary group of 495 personal photographic albums compiled by soldiers, nurses and survivors.