The Collector’s Eye

August 3, 2019—October 6, 2019
North Carolina Museum of Art

North Carolina abounds with passionate collectors of things: cars, furniture, glass, posters, historical documents, paintings, drawings, and photographs. Collectors of any type should be celebrated. They bring together the bits and pieces of our culture and give them coherence and meaning. These related exhibitions focus on two private North Carolina collections of American photography from its early decades, when image making seemed more magic than science, but never less than art.

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The Collector’s Eye: Early photographs of African Americans from the Dennis O. Williams Collection

The collection of Mr. Williams features  compelling portraits of African Americans from the last half of the 19th century, a period of dramatic change in the roles of black Americans in society. As a collector, Williams focuses his attention on images of African Americans who were slaves or who might  have been slaves.

The Collector’s Eye: Early American photography from the Dr. Paul Lafavore Collection

Dr. Lafavore’s collection focuses on beautifully crafted examples of the daguerreotype, the first commercially successful photographic process. Portraits predominate, many from New England. Unusual are groupings of portraits in period frames.

Organized by the North Carolina Museum of Art. This exhibition is made possible, in part, by the North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources; the North Carolina Museum of Art Foundation, Inc.; and the William R. Kenan Jr. Endowment for Educational Exhibitions. Research for this exhibition was made possible by Ann and Jim Goodnight/The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Fund for Curatorial and Conservation Research and Travel.

Thomas J. Curran, Portrait of black fireman holding raccoon mascot, circa late 1880s, albumen print, mounted on paper card, 6 1/2 x 4 1/2 in., Collection of Dennis O. Williams

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