UNTIL March 2020, a new exhibition at the Maison Tavel in Geneva’s Old Town displays a beautiful collection of photographs tracing the first 25 years of photography in the French-speaking part of Switzerland.
The photographs have been loaned by Michèle and Michel Auer from their extensive, very rare collection of original photographs that display both pioneering techniques and aesthetics.
Nearly 200 originals dating from the 1840s to 1865 offer visitors an opportunity to discover the variety of themes and techniques that highlighted the early years of a medium that was as much reviled as admired.
The public are first introduced to different techniques — daguerreotypes and positive-negative prints — as well as various formats of early photography — the visiting card, the panorama and stereoscopy (a process by which two photographs of the same object taken at slightly different angles are viewed together, creating an impression of depth and solidity.)
The exhibition also pays tribute to the pioneering photographers themselves who from the first sought to illustrate photography’s full potential and in doing so, managed to convince their contemporaries of its aesthetic value as much as its practicality.
In the Swiss Romandy, local photographers as well as foreign visitors found rich source material for realizing views and panoramas that delighted tourists, travelers, mountain enthusiasts and of course, the local population.
The exhibition also looks at the various subjects photographers chose to explore through their lens: the “true” self-image; large construction projects; emblematic monuments such as the Château de Chillon; the wonders of the world, for example, the Mosque of Kalif Omar; and finally, the splendors of nature.
In attempting to capture reality these talented photographers also managed to imbue their images with beauty and in some cases elevate them to a kind of visual poetry as well.♣
Pioneers of Photography in Swiss Romandy
– The Auer Ory Collection
Until 29 March 2020
Rue du Puits-St-Pierre 6
T +41(0)22 418 37 00
F +41(0)22 418 37 01
Hours: 11am to 6pm, closed Mondays
Cost: Free entry to permanent exhibition;
price varies for temporary exhibitions
Caption main photo: Auguste Garcin: Russian Church, Geneva, around 1865, albumin print, 126 x 215 mm, ©Fondation Auer Ory.