One hundred and ninety years ago Nicéphore Niépce applied a photographic procedure to produce a permanent copy of nature for the first time. Less than twenty years later Slovenian priest Janez Puhar started to develop his own procedure of a photograph on glass plate. It took photography decades to get on its own and shake off the imaginative paradigms appropriated from painting. Even today it exists in our cultural awareness as a creative field which can excite collecting passion with relatively exclusive circles of photographers and rare aficionados. Our first public photographic collection was initiated as The Cabinet of Slovenian Photography in 1970, as a department of the regional Gorenjski muzej Kranj, followed by the collection of the Museum of Architecture and Design, Ljubljana, in the mid-1970s, and at last the collection of contemporary photography of the Museum of Modern Art in Ljubljana was established. We owe the historical outline of photography in Slovenia to Mirko Kambič, M.A. Less than a decade ago, perhaps, we witnessed sprouting of certain commercial galleries which specialize in contemporary photographic production. The National Gallery of Slovenia has started its photographic collection only in recent years, since in its documentary holdings, as in many an archive anywhere in the world, a lot of photographs and photographic plates survive, perceived today with a different bias.
Recognition of the photography's value beyond its information expedience about a time gone by has initiated also endeavours in conservation and restoration to devise treatment and standards for the prolongation of life span of photographic products, and in understanding and reconstruction of obsolete photographic procedures in the discipline which has seen a tremendously fast technological development. Its research devises tools for easier and more accurate periodization of so frequently anonymous material and opens ways to understanding the creativity of individual photographers. On such ground is defined the purpose of collecting photographs in the National Gallery. We try to systematically acquire examples of various photographic procedures, samples of production from photographic studios in Slovenia, we are particularly interested in photography by Slovenian artists, works from the early decades of the discipline and the reception of different photographic procedures in Slovenian provinces. Thus we cultivate domestic expertise necessary for the preservation of cultural heritage in the field of photography, for the education of our audiences to understand its importance and aesthetic horizons which can enrich the cognitive and existential experience of contemporary man. As a public museum collection, it can substantially contribute to valuation and recognition of photographic production created in Slovenian territories.
We have selected a few samples from our collection produced with various photographic procedures long since obsolete, or some of those returning today as exotic photographic techniques.
3 September–30 September 2015
National Gallery of Slovenia