Friday, 7 December 2012



Masters Gallery introduces Richard Henry Trueman: Photographer of the West this December! Historical photography sits on the boundary between art history and history. The creative worth of Western Canadian historical photographs is often overlooked in favour of fine art mediums such as oil painting or watercolour. Perhaps this is because historical photographs occupy a nebulous place between artwork and artifact. Perhaps it is in part because they are not perceived as having been created under the same romantic notions of time consuming outdoor hardships that are bestowed upon artists sketching en plein air. However, at that time the process of creating photographs of such ingenious clarity would have been challenging indeed. Trueman would have hauled his equipment into remote mountainous terrain, not unlike artists with their sketchbooks. Producing high quality photographs at the turn of the century shares little akin to the infinite snapshots produced with a digital camera. Whatever perceptions of early photography there may be, there is no doubt that the work of Richard Henry Trueman and his professional contemporaries is both artistic and historically enlightening. Historians, art historians, curators, archivists and a growing number of collectors have not overlooked historical photography of Western Canada. Historical photography of Western Canada has been featured in scholarly literature and exhibition catalogues. Recent publications that have included historical photography of Western Canada have been deemed integral to the understanding of 19th century and early 20th century exploration and perceptions of British Columbia. As well, these publications have integrated historical photography with other fine art, creating artistic comparisons with other contemporaneous two-dimensional mediums such as watercolour, pencil, ink and oil paintings. Some of the recent shows and literature to include historical photography have been Vistas: Artists on the Canadian Pacific Railway, an companion to the exhibition organized by the Glenbow Museum, Calgary, 2009 by specialist Roger Boulet. Another from a major exhibition at the Vancouver Art Gallery was Expanding Horizons: Paintings and Photography of American and Canadian landscapes 1860-1918. Most recently Nancy Townsend has published Art Inspired by the Canadian Rockies, Purcell Mountains, and Selkirk Mountains 1809-2012. Canada Council for the Arts: Bayeux Arts Inc., 2012. Masters Gallery Calgary had the pleasure of hosting a book launch for Townsend’s book this December 1st. Townsend’s book devotes an entire chapter to the work of Richard Henry Trueman.

By: Jill Turner

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