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Playing with Pictures: The Art of Victorian Photocollage

June 5 to September 5, 2010

This exhibition showcases the little-known phenomenon of Victorian photocollage. Organized by the Art Institute of Chicago and curated by Elizabeth Siegel, it features more than 40 of the best albums and loose pages from collections across the United States, Europe and Australia — many rarely, if ever, seen in public before.

With sharp wit and dramatic shifts of scale, these delightful collages upend the serious conventions of photography at that time. They also reveal the accomplished hands and educated minds of their makers — taking on the new theory of evolution, addressing the changing role of photography, and challenging the strict conventions of aristocratic society. And while these unique compositions may seem wonderfully odd to us now, they are actually perfectly in keeping with the Victorian sensibility that embraced juxtaposition and variety. They also offer enduring inspiration for photographic experimentation today.

Share your Photocollages

Here are some great entries from our Flickr pool

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Play with Pictures and Win!

We’d love to see photocollages that you’ve created, either with our Playing with Pictures templates or your own originals. We’ll have monthly draws for a set of 2 free AGO tickets throughout the duration of the show, so post or send us your images for a chance to win!

Elizabeth Siegel: Society Cut-Ups

Recorded: Saturday, June 5, 2010 @ Marvin Gelber Prints and Drawings Centre, Art Gallery of Ontario
Duration: 51:41

Madame B Album

Because photocollage albums were almost exclusively made by upper-class English women, this album, with its French maker, is a rare example. However, Fournier likely had exposure to English diplomats in the international circles in which she traveled, and she may have been inspired to create her own album after seeing other examples or learning of the practice from her English acquaintances.

AGO Pays Homage to the History of Playing with Pictures

Sixty years ahead of the avant-garde, aristocratic women of the 1860s and 1870s combined photographs and watercolours to create the little-known phenomenon of Victorian photocollage. From June 5 to September 5, the Art Gallery of Ontario hosts Playing with Pictures: The Art of Victorian Photocollage, organized by the Art Institute of Chicago.

Toronto Star: The roots of Surrealism in Victorian collage

Review by Murray White, Visual Art Critic. "Ladies of leisure command overdue respect with witty photo cut-ups..."

Eye Weekly: Playing With Pictures: The Art of Victorian Photocollage

Review by David Balzer. "Memorializing friends and lovers in scrapbooks and albums has been around as long as there have been over-educated women with time on their hands..."

Organized by

The Art Institute of Chicago

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