Strange Light: The Photography of Clarence John Laughlin
May 11–November 10, 2019
Clarence John Laughlin (American, 1905–1985), Water Witch, 1939, printed 1940, gelatin silver print. High Museum of Art, Atlanta, purchase, 1978.63.
Clarence John Laughlin (American, 1905–1985), The Enigma, 1941, gelatin silver print. High Museum of Art, Atlanta, purchase, 75.76.
Dubbed the “Father of American Surrealism,” Clarence John Laughlin (1905–1985) was the most important Southern photographer of his time and a singular figure in the development of the American school of photography. The High boasts one of the largest and most important monographic holdings of Laughlin’s work and will celebrate his important legacy with this exhibition, the most comprehensive posthumous presentation of his work to date.
Strange Light surveys Laughlin’s signature photographs between 1935 and 1965 from more than 80 prints in the Museum’s collection, including many from a landmark 2015 acquisition that will be on view at the High for the first time.
Laughlin considered himself a writer first and a photographer second, and he saw image-making as a form of visual poetry. Known primarily for his atmospheric depictions of the decaying antebellum architecture that proliferated in his hometown of New Orleans, Laughlin approached photography with a romantic, experimental eye that diverged strongly from the style of his peers, who championed realism and social documentary.
The exhibition explores Laughlin’s literary leanings in great depth by placing his photographs in relationship to Southern Gothic literature and other regional literary genres, which were widely popular in the 1940s. Strange Light also attests to Laughlin’s innovative approach and insight into photography’s development.
Strange Light: The Photography of Clarence John Laughlin is organized by the High Museum of Art, Atlanta.
This exhibition is made possible by
Exhibition Series Sponsors
Premier Exhibition Series Supporter
The Antinori Foundation
Sarah and Jim Kennedy
Louise Sams and Jerome Grilhot
Benefactor Exhibition Series Supporter
Anne Cox Chambers Foundation
Ambassador Exhibition Supporters
Tom and Susan Wardell
Contributing Exhibition Series Supporters
The Ron and Lisa Brill Family Charitable Trust
Lucinda W. Bunnen
Marcia and John Donnell
W. Daniel Ebersole and Sarah Eby-Ebersole
Robin and Hilton Howell
Mr. and Mrs. Baxter Jones
Margot and Danny McCaul
Generous support is also provided by
Alfred and Adele Davis Exhibition Endowment Fund, Anne Cox Chambers Exhibition Fund, Barbara Stewart Exhibition Fund, Marjorie and Carter Crittenden, Dorothy Smith Hopkins Exhibition Endowment Fund, Eleanor McDonald Storza Exhibition Endowment Fund, The Fay and Barrett Howell Exhibition Fund, Forward Arts Foundation Exhibition Endowment Fund, Helen S. Lanier Endowment Fund, Isobel Anne Fraser–Nancy Fraser Parker Exhibition Endowment Fund, John H. and Wilhelmina D. Harland Exhibition Endowment Fund, Katherine Murphy Riley Special Exhibition Endowment Fund, Margaretta Taylor Exhibition Fund, Massey Charitable Trust, RJR Nabisco Exhibition Endowment Fund, and Dr. Diane L. Wisebram