Explore Boston

Where to Focus on Fine-Art Photography in Boston

A pair of fascinating photography exhibitions capture life in Paris before World War II, plus where to find fine art to bring home

Two landmark exhibitions, one each at the Museum of Fine Arts Boston and the McMullen Museum of Art at Boston College, explore the birth of modern photography and life in Paris before World War II through images captured by the art form's pioneers, artists still recognized and appreciated across the world today.

‘Photo Eye: Avant-Garde Photography in Europe’ at the Museum of Fine Arts Boston

Chart the shift in photographic expression of the early 20th century in this exhibit set between World War I and World War II. These two decades were a tremendous and rich period of growth among the international community of artists and writers living in Paris and beyond, during which many broke from tradition. Examine 46 important works by László Moholy-Nagy, Josef Sudek and Man Ray, plus new acquisitions by Jacques Henri Lartigue and Constantin Brancusi. March 15-July 6, 2014
Museum of Fine Arts Boston, 465 Huntington Ave., Boston, 617.267.9300

1931 gelatin silver print by Jacques Henri Lartigue, “Poussy, portrait with ring and glass bracelet”
See this 1931 gelatin silver print by Jacques Henri Lartigue, “Poussy, portrait with ring and glass bracelet,” at Museum of Fine Arts Boston. (© Museum of Fine Arts, Boston/Lucy Dalbiac Luard Fund)

‘Paris Night & Day: Photography Between the Wars’ at McMullen Museum of Art

Capturing the city between 1918 and 1939, this exhibition explores the nascence of modern photography through spontaneous images taken on the street or in nontraditional spaces like dance halls and brothels, and others that employ special effects created by new developing techniques. More than 100 works by incredible photographers—Ilse Bing, Lisette Model, Man Ray, Henri Cartier-Bresson, André Kertész and others—are organized thematically into groups like “The Theater of the Street” and “The Manipulated Photograph.” Feb. 15-June 8, 2014
McMullen Museum of Art, Devlin Hall 101, 140 Commonwealth Ave., Chestnut Hill, 617.552.8100

Ilse Bing’s 1931 “Cancan dancers, Moulin Rouge”
McMullen Museum of Art shows off Ilse Bing’s 1931 “Cancan dancers, Moulin Rouge” (©Ilse Bing Estate)

After sightseeing in local museums, hit up this city's many galleries that showcase fine art photography—and bring something home.

Panopticon Gallery

Panopticon Gallery is a nationally renowned fine-art photography gallery representing established and emerging photographers who specialize in contemporary, modern and vintage photography.
502c Commonwealth Ave., Boston, 617.267.8929

Debby Krim Photography

Local artist Debby Krim opens her studio featuring stunning oil paintings and photography—Krim even had a photograph featured in the Sandra Bullock film, “The Proposal.”
450 Harrison Ave, Studio 223a, Boston, 978.394.6995

Iris Gallery of Fine Art

Iris Gallery specializes in featuring both black-and-white and color, contemporary photographic works created within the past 30 years.
129 Newbury St., Boston, 617.895.8951

Robert Klein Gallery

One of the most prestigious show rooms of fine art photography in the world, Robert Klein Gallery shows 19th-, 20th- and 21st-century work.
38 Newbury St., Boston, 617.267.7997

Tepper Takayama Fine Arts

Tepper Takayama Fine Arts specializes in documentary, narrative, conceptual and abstract photography created after World War II by top-tier photographers from around the world.
The Statler Building, 20 Park Plaza, Suite 600, Boston, 617.542.0557

Other fun, local resources for fine-art photography:

Griffin Museum of Photography

A short distance from Boston, the Griffin Museum is known for its study and thought-provoking exhibitions from well-known professionals to those emerging on the scene.
67 Shore Road, Winchester, 781.729.1158

Ars Libri Ltd.

Art buffs meet heaven at Ars Libri, this South End specialty bookseller that claims the largest stock of rare and out-of-print books on art in the U.S. and is known across the globe for its resources on all periods and fields of art history (including photography), from antiquity to the present.
500 Harrison Ave., Boston, 617.357.5212

Additional reporting by Elyse Libeskind