Review by David Brickman
The future looks pretty frightening at the moment, and personal legacies may seem like a shallow concern – but Jack Shear’s personal collection of photographs, a huge selection of which is on view at the Tang Teaching Museum at Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs through Sunday, August 14, is an absolutely dazzling legacy.
Shear, who is the executive director of the Ellsworth Kelly Foundation, is also a photographer in his own right and has experience as a curator (this selection was co-curated by Shear and Tang Director Ian Berry). But this more-than-500-piece collection, donated in its entirety to the Tang last year, is what he will be remembered for, and with good reason.
Beginning in the 1840s with a vitrine full of Daguerreotypes, and continuing through the early 2000s, this compendium of the history of Western photography is a treasure trove that belongs at a teaching museum, where Berry and Shear contrived to place it at the fingertips of students, curators and scholars for the years to come. For now, we get to be those scholars, exploring about half the collection where it is gorgeously arrayed through the Tang’s entire second floor galleries, in pristine rows and heady constellations of cleanly framed prints.