. : PASSING ON MEMORIES - Family Photograph Albums from the Museum of Applied Art Collections : .

PASSING ON MEMORIES
Family Photograph Albums from the Museum of Applied Art Collections

May 17 – June 17, 2008


The exhibition Family Photo Albums from the Collections of The Museum of Applied Art is another in the sequence of special exhibitions that present the items from The Museum's collections. It consists of objects dated from the second half of 19th Century and the first half of 20th Century preserved in the collections of photo albums in The Museum of the Applied Arts. The appearance of photo albums, as well as photography itself, is tightly tied to the rise of civic class, and is largely conditioned by the changes in the structure of family and urban civic 19th-century interior.

There are no reliable documents about the appearance of photo albums in Serbia. We can almost certainly say that they were not produced in the local bookbinding shops, but are, mostly, imports from Germany and Austro-Hungarian Empire. The albums in the collections in The Museum of Applied Art testify to this, as they belong to the known types of albums mass-produced in these countries during the second half of 19th Century.

The collection of photo albums in The Museum of Applied Art contains 37 objects, dating from 1860 to 1940. Among them, there are those whose provenance is known, and that are preserved in their totality, with the original choice and layout of photographs, as those that belonged to famous historic personages – Svetozar Miletić, Anastas Jovanović, Marko Ristić, or more or less known families such as Predić, Jakovljević, Petrović, Antula, Zorić, Smederevac and Vladarski.

A 19th-century photo album, containing primarily family portraits, had a form of visual genealogy of a family. Designed as a monumental codex, with lavish binding and decorated pages, photo album presented a representative family memorabilia that was a part of private collection, a valuable exhibit of private domestic museum. Right from the start, the role of the structure of photo album during 19th Century, which contained primarily portraits of family proper – father, mother and children, and then portraits of extended family - relatives and friends, was to build the identity of a modern family as an essential kernel of civic society. Photo album, as a totality, became one of the most persistent forms of preservation of family's memory that binds together generations, thus creating a shared family identity.

20th-century photo albums differ from 19th–century ones. In accordance with new values brought by modernity, their structure in founded on the principles of transience and change, not stability and durability as in 19th Century. Family albums of 20th Century are not made of static portraits of family members, cousins and friends, but mostly of the shots that record the everyday life, the dynamics of actual occurrences. They are not focused on the inner circle of home, but on outdoors, a yard, an alley, a river, spa or seaside, in which action takes place as well as the endeavors such as skating, hiking, walking, picnicking, sunbathing and swimming.

A publication accompanies this exhibition containing a critical essay, illustrations and catalogue.


Authorof the exhibition: Jelena Perać, curator in The Department for Photography and Applied Graphics