At the Museum of Fine Arts Ghent, spring 2015 was dedicated to Julia Margaret Cameron (1815 - 1879). Cameron was one of the most important and innovative photographers of the nineteenth century, yet she remains largely unknown outside a select world of connoisseurs. And the MSK wanted to change that.
Experimenting with a new art form
Cameron's powerful portraits are perhaps the most famous. But she also placed the models she had pose for her - friends, family and servants - in biblical, historical and allegorical contexts. Her photographs were groundbreaking for several reasons: Cameron deliberately kept them indistinct, blurred even, and they show scratches, stains and other traces of the making process. Her unconventional approach met with criticism, but the beauty of her compositions and her dedication to photography as an art form also earned her admiration.
2015 marked the 200th anniversary of Cameron's birth and the 150th anniversary of her first exhibition, in 1865, at the then South Kensington Museum in London (now the Victoria and Albert Museum). By organising the retrospective exhibition 'Julia Margaret Cameron (1815-1879), pioneer of photography', MSK Ghent celebrated this double anniversary, as the only museum on the European continent. The exhibition drew on the Victoria and Albert Museum's rich collection of photography.