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Playing with Pictures: The Art of Victorian Photocollage by Elisabeth Siegel

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Playing with Pictures: The Art of Victorian Photocollage by Elisabeth Siegel
with additional essays by Patrizia Di Bello and Marta Weiss
and contributions by Miranda Hofelt

oblong, 4to. pp. 200. profusely illustrated. index. quarter cloth, hardcover. Chicago: The Art Institute of Chicago in association with Yale University Press, 2009.

Published in conjunction with an exhibition.


ISBN-10: 0300141149 / ISBN-13: 9780300141146


Human heads on animal bodies, people in fanciful landscapes, faces that are deftly morphed into common household objects—these are among the Victorian experiments in photocollage seen and explained in this marvelous book. With sharp wit and dramatic shifts of scale, these images flouted the serious conventions of photography in the 1860s and 1870s. Often made by women for albums, they reveal the educated minds and accomplished hands of their makers, taking on the new theory of evolution, addressing the changing role of photography, and challenging the strict conventions of aristocratic society. Although these photocollages may seem wonderfully odd to us now, the authors argue that they are actually perfectly in keeping with the Victorian sensibility that embraced juxtaposition and variety. This delightful book, the first to examine comprehensively examine the phenomenon of Victorian photocollage, presents imagery that has rarely-and, in many cases, never-been displayed or reproduced. Illuminating text provides a history of Victorian photocollage albums, identifies common motifs, and demonstrates the distinctly modern character of the medium, which paved the way for the future avant-garde potential of both photography and collage.