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Snapshots from the Peter J. Cohen Gift

Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City


Amateur snapshots are the ‘folk art’ of photography. Snapshots represent a world we instinctively know, while reminding us of the special—and often peculiar—nature of camera vision.

These simple images embody a spirit of affection, curiosity and play. They reflect the familiar rhythms of everyday life—the events and motifs lovingly recorded generation after generation. They also represent a rich tradition of pictorial invention—a result, variously, of intention, mistake and chance. Tilted horizons, awkward intrusions and oddly cropped or off-center subjects are common in snapshots, as are the effects of blur, faulty focus and double exposure.

Now, at the end of photography’s analog era, artists and collectors are studying these works with new respect as a key aspect of modern visual culture.

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