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Exhibition Title

Second Chicago Photographic Salon


Second Chicago Photographic Salon

October 1 to 20, 1901. The Art Institute of Chicago
Held under the joint management of 'The Chicago Society of Amateur Photographers' and The Art Institute of Chicago.


Introductory.In presenting to the public this catalogue of the Second Photographic Salon of the Chicago Society of Amateur Photographers and of the Art Institute of Chicago, the joint management deems it proper to say a few words both retrospective and prospective.
The present Salon is representative of the growth of a great idea. It is the realization of a profound aspiration. This idea and this aspiration may truly be said to have had birth in Europe, but for the Americans it may be observed that we were courageous enough to provide the arena in which should be fought out the conflict between the new and the reactionary in photographic art. The really decisive engagement was in 1900 in Chicago. In the endeavor to arrive at a consensus of competent opinion as to the right and valid field and scope of the camera as an instrument of artistic expression, the Chicago Salon of 1900 was formed. As in the previous Salons of Philadelphia and New York, pictorial quality was the standard by which works were judged. Great exactitude of classification was essential. In the past there had been exhibitions of the old school of photography and more recently there had appeared examples of a strange new evolution of camera craft. Between the advocates of pure photography and the cult of "print manipulators" there was a wide divergence of opinion.
Such being the case the joint committee of the Chicago Society of Amateur Photographers and of the Art Institute of Chicago called into being the Salon of 1900, hoping that it might be decisive as to the merits of the matter at issue. A dispassionate review of that Salon and a singularly wide discussion of it clearly proved that the central ideal of all progressive camera workers and of all graphic artists was one and the same - namely:
It is now generally understood that there is no valid or just reason why photography should claim exemption from any of the laws which govern the painter, the etcher, the architect or the sculptor. A choice of lines, masses or values which would be invalid for the uses of the painter must, by the same token, be false for the camerist. And, in like manner, that felicity of grouping, that delicacy of feeling, that consummate dexterity of execution, that exaltation of purpose, which in painting would constitute a masterpiece, must, if achieved with the camera, constitute no less a masterpiece.
This conception of photography has been the governing law of the First and Second Chicago Salons. Adherence to some pet prescription has not been exacted. Media and methods have been regarded as of secondary importance. Of prime importance has been considered that blessed combination of artistic vision and consummate execution from which only can result a work of art.
For the future, we may add that there will be increasing yearning and endeavor to achieve the highest ideals of art with the camera - and other Salons to give them publicity and recognition.
Cordial acknowledgments are herewith returned by the *joint management to all whose generous to-operation has assisted in the prosecution of the arduous preliminary work, and contributed to the successful opening of the Second Photographic Salon of Chicago.
Louis Albert Lamb,
For the Joint Salon Committee.

The Value of the Salon Print.

It is not generally appreciated that a Salon Photograph is, or should be, not one of several chance pictures, but the final result of many experiments, much thought, and a definte intention; and that its value should be estimated, not only according to the actual time and thought expended on the particular print, but with consideration for all that has led to its development - the "sketches" and failures that have preceded it.
The special point to be remembered in regard to the Salon Print is its individuality. Probably the greatest masters of painting could never actually duplicate one of their masterpieces. Mood, conditions and material would never agree again to bring about the same result. An artist is always more or less the slave of his mood, and living with his creation to its completion he is no longer the same man - by necessity and inclination his next treatment of the same subject would be different. The artist who uses a camera instead of a paint-brush is subject to the same influences.
Some artists spend their feeling in the manipulating of the print - in gum or glycerine or some other medium; others in the manipulation of plate and negative or in the management of the light. In the latter cases, where some similarity in prints is possible, there is still the element of selection after careful experiments, so that in the end it all comes to the same point—each print has its own particular note and value and cannot be duplicated. This individuality of the print is one main difference between a Photographic Salon and an exhibition of photographs.
E. L. S.

Source: Catalog of this exhibition, page 4-6.