Celebrating 20 years of collecting rare photographs at the J. Paul Getty Museum, this exhibition focuses on 38 photographers who created exceptionally enduring pictures. Selected from the more than 600 photographers represented by in-depth holdings at the Museum, each photographer of genius created a body of work that was ahead of its time and exerted a profound influence on both contemporaries and successors.
Like outstanding philosophers and painters, these photographers show exceptional natural ability and go beyond mere skill in the handling of their materials. What they possess transcends talent. It is more spontaneous and intuitive, and less dependent on instruction or amenable to training. Often it is the product of instinct tempered by the rational mind. Photographers of genius prompt us to stretch our own limits, taking us into new realms of visual experience. The innovative pioneers presented here span 150 years, from the early 1800s to the mid-1900s. They advanced the art of photography and, in the process, changed the history of art.