“Photo Revolution: Andy Warhol to Cindy Sherman,” at the Worcester Art Museum through February 15, explores the evolution of photography at the hands of the baby boom generation. The exhibition brackets the time frame after WWII but before smartphones and illustrates forces that have shaped popular culture, resulting in currently different standards in contemporary art. Curator Nancy Kathryn Burns invites audiences into this show, which is a roaming look at our cultural climate when photography quickly insinuated itself into daily life, and in the process, eventually achieving equal footing among painting and sculpture as an art form.
The exhibition catalogue opens with a quote from Marcel Duchamp responding to Alfred Stieglitz’s question, “Can a photograph have the significance of art?” Duchamp wrote, in part, “I would like to see it make people despise painting until something else will make photography unbearable.” A wonderful Duchamp-ian snap-back, he inclusively cites the rising cultural love affair with photography while commenting on the inevitability of leveling change. “Photo Revolution” relates a place in contemporary art history when high and low culture converged into a polyglot of information flow. Worcester Art Museum’s take on the subject skillfully illustrates, in over 225 artworks from the late 1950s to the 1980s, that photography established a new landscape of cultural coordinates.