This exhibition curated by Lisa Hostetler, is the long overdue first major retrospective of Genevieve Naylor’s work and builds a vivid portrayal of the trajectory of a creative and unconventional woman as she navigated the challenges and possibilities of making a living as a photographer in the first half of the twentieth century up until the 1960s.
Genevieve Naylor and the Art of Magazine Photography includes around 190 photographs organized into five sections: “Early Work”, “Eyes on Brazil”, “Avant Garde à la Mode”, “Postwar Lives and Celebrity Lifestyles”, and “An Extraordinary Life”. Thus, the exhibition offers the audience a comprehensive understanding of Naylor’s work, beginning with her early work for the Associated Press and continuing through her two years stay in Brazil and subsequent career as a successful magazine photographer and chronicles her personal and professional life through family photographs, letters, documents, ephemera, and an illustrated chronology.
Born in Bronxville, NY, in 1915 and raised in Springfield, MA, Genevieve Naylor studied painting under Misha Reznikoff whom she would eventually marry. Living in New York City, the couple joined a vibrant community of artists that included Willem de Kooning, Jackson Pollock, Arshile Gorky, and others. This coterie and its wider sphere of influence connected Naylor with Berenice Abbott, with whom she apprenticed in the mid to late 1930s. In 1940 Naylor and Reznikoff were tapped by Nelson Rockefeller to travel to Brazil as part of a cultural exchange for the Office of InterAmerican Affairs. Upon returning to the USA, Naylor became only the second woman photographer to be given a solo exhibition at New York’s MoMA when her Brazil photographs were exhibited there in 1943.
The power of the images in this exhibition testifies to the quality and artistry of Naylor’s work, and what emerges is a masterful oeuvre by a fascinating personality. Now that photography’s expressive potential is more fully recognized, and the art of magazine photography finally assumed its rightful place in the walls of museums and galleries, Genevieve Naylor and the impressive body of work she created can finally assume their place in the history of art.
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