During his thirty years as adjunct curator of photographs at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Michael Hoffman expanded the collection of photographs to include some 15,000 works, many of which were acquired by gift and purchase from the special exhibitions he organized. In celebration of his life and legacy, the Museum presents Michael Hoffman: A Tribute in Pictures, on view in the Julien Levy Gallery from April 27 through August 11, 2002.
Michael E. Hoffman (1942-2001) was the founding curator of the Museum’s Alfred Stieglitz Center devoted to the collecting and exhibiting of photographs. He was appointed in 1968 when the Center was established through the gift by Dorothy Norman of more than 800 photographs and photogravures. During his thirty-year tenure (1968- 1998), Hoffman organized a succession of groundbreaking exhibitions for the Museum that traveled internationally, each accompanied by catalogues published by Aperture, the distinguished photography publication of which Hoffman was publisher and executive director from 1965 until his death in November 2001.
Hoffman’s practice of collecting and exhibiting large bodies of work to represent every phase of a photographer’s evolution gave the Museum’s photography collection a unique character. By developing direct, personal collaborations with living photographers, Hoffman espoused an abiding vision to follow the spirit of Alfred Stieglitz. The exhibition brings together more than fifty images by prominent artists who participated in such collaborations and whose bodies of work were acquired by gift and purchase for the Museum’s collection. They include Paul Strand, Minor White, Frederick H. Evans, Robert Adams, Robert Frank, Clarence John Laughlin, Ray K. Metzker, Sebastião Salgado, W. Eugene Smith and Josef Sudek.
Among the works by Strand, a longtime friend for whom Hoffman would later serve as executor, is Wall Street (1915), the famous image that distinguished Strand as a major force in 20th century photography, as well as Man in a Derby, New York (1916) and The Family, Luzzara Italy (1953). Also highlighted in the exhibition are works by White, the founder of Aperture and Professor of Photography at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, with whom Hoffman began to study in 1962, and who exerted a major influence on him.
The exhibition is presented in the Julien Levy Gallery on the ground floor of the Museum. It is organized by Katherine Ware, Curator of Photographs, the Alfred Stieglitz Center, Philadelphia Museum of Art.
Housing some 140,000 works of art, the Department of Prints, Drawings and Photographs at the Philadelphia Museum of Art is nationally recognized for the breadth and depth of its collections as well as the flair and scholarship of its exhibitions. The Department presents rotating installations of its vast holdings in the Berman and Stieglitz Galleries on the Museum’s ground floor, the Eglin Gallery on the first floor, and in the newly dedicated Julien Levy Gallery. Individual works are also on view elsewhere in the Museum’s permanent collection galleries.