Wed, 01/14/2015 – Sun, 05/03/2015

Payne Hurd Gallery

William Dassonville (1879–1957) produced idyllic landscapes and escapist city scenes in and around San Francisco, representing California as the new “Promised Land.” He exhibited his photographs widely and was friendly with the naturalist John Muir, artist William Keith, and fellow photographer Ansel Adams, who initially used Dassonville’s own brand of printing paper. In tune with the times, Dassonville embraced the Arts and Crafts Movement, which shunned factory production in favor of craftsmanship. As a Pictorialist he strove for harmonious compositions that emulated paintings in order for his prints to be considered fine art and used soft focus and a limited tonal range to idealize his subjects. As a result, his poetic images go against the inherent nature of photography as a mirror of reality―during a period of marked industrialization in Northern California.

Most of the works in this exhibition were from the Museum’s permanent collection, donated by Judith G. Hochberg and Michael P. Mattis, Elena Pollack, Richard Pollack, and George H. and Tamie Speciale. Additional works were kindly lent by Charles Isaacs Photography and James Main Fine Art. Special thanks to the Lehigh University Art Galleries for their generous loans and assistance.

This exhibition complemented the upstairs exhibition Weston’s Women, which featured the next generation of California photography.

Sierras, ca. 1925, gelatin silver print. Courtesy of James Main Fine Art