Muhlenberg Lecture – The Beauty of Common Things: Imogen Cunningham’s Transnational Aesthetic
John Stauffer, Professor of English and of African American Studies (Harvard)
“We [photographers] must be able to gain an understanding at short notice and close range of the beauties of character, intellect, and spirit, so as to be able to draw out the best qualities and make them show in the outer aspect of the sitter. To do this one must have a not too pronounced notion of what constitutes beauty in the external, and above all must not worship it. To worship beauty for its own sake is narrow, and one surely cannot derive from it that aesthetic pleasure which comes from finding beauty in the commonest things.” (Imogen Cunningham, “Photography as a Profession for Women,” 1913)
Professor Stauffer explores the photographic work of Imogen Cunningham from a transnational perspective and discusses the ways in which she defamiliarized the familar and transformed the ordinary into art.
To view the lecture and the slides, please click here.