The photography department is recognized for its extensive holdings of nineteenth-century work, notably of the American West. Collectively, the museum’s works of early photography reflect both the achievements of the medium’s outstanding practitioners and the shifting environmental attitudes of nineteenth-century Americans. The collection also has strong holdings of European and American modernist photography.
During the Martin Building renovation project, the Photography galleries are closed. Please view select pieces from the Denver Art Museum’s Photography collection in the cross-departmental exhibition The Light Show.
EXPLORE THE COLLECTION ONLINE: Browse artworks from the photography collection anytime. Check back often for additions and updates.
The Daniel Wolf Landscape Photography Collection encompasses the work of photographers from Maine to California, and gives special emphasis to Western landscapes by acknowledged masters such as William Bell, W.H. Jackson, Timothy O’Sullivan, Andrew Joseph Russell, Adam Clarke Vroman, and Carleton E. Watkins. Additional nineteenth-century holdings include recent acquisitions of masterworks such as William Henry Fox Talbot’s 1845 A Scene In York and several Henry Bosse cyanotypes from the album, Views on the Mississippi River. Collectively, the museum’s works of early photography reflect both the achievements of the medium’s outstanding practitioners and the shifting environmental attitudes of nineteenth century Americans.
European modernism is an additional strength of the photography collection, and one with significant affinity to artworks and other materials in the museum’s Herbert Bayer Archive. Important photographs by Bayer, Frantisek Drtikol, Jaromir Funke, Gyorgi Kepes, Man Ray, and others express the spirit of modernist vision and show the remarkable command of technique instilled through experiment. Works of American modernism by Berenice Abbott, Laura Gilpin, Edward Weston, and others show how similar approaches to light and form expressed in quite different responses.
Photographs in the collection from the second half of the twentieth century respond to changing perceptions and values, both in the art world and in the world at large. The museum’s substantial collection of Robert Adams photographs addresses environmental dilemmas in the American West through plain-spoken images of human-altered landscapes. Works by Diane Arbus and Larry Clark find dignity, frailty, and pathos in the marginalized. And the museum’s extensive holdings of Garry Winogrand photographs cull generous, humorous, and sometimes startling, stories from the chaos of everyday life in the streets.
Since 1970, photographers have frequently blurred the line between the medium and other artistic disciplines. The department has collected outstanding examples of contemporary photographic work to parallel the DAM’s modern and contemporary art collection. Works by artists such as Chuck Close, Petah Coyne, and Tom Friedman display the rich cross-fertilization that occurs when painters, sculptors and conceptual artists explore new ideas through photography. Other pieces, by David Levinthal, Cindy Sherman, and Lorna Simpson push the conventions of photography to new limits and expand our understanding of what the medium can be, while photographs by international artists, such as Shirin Neshat and Liu Wei exhibit the exchange of ideas that is possible in today’s universally connected world.
News & Stories
Several photographs from the Denver Art Museum’s collection can be found throughout Stampede: Animals in Art, on view through May 19, 2019. This exhibition includes works from every curatorial department at the DAM and highlights the significance and prominence of animal imagery in art across cultures and time. More
Sami Alkarim is the next speaker in the Anderman Photography Lecture Series at the Denver Art Museum on October 4. In this talk he will discuss his Dream series (examples recently on view in New Territory: Landscape Photography Today) and other projects as well as share insight into the motivation behind his work. Please join us for what is sure to be an interesting and inspiring talk. More
New Territory: Landscape Photography Today is on view at the Denver Art Museum through September 16, 2018.
New Territory is included with general admission, which is free for members and youth 18 and younger. More
This contest is now closed. More
Read about three artists with photos in New Territory: Landscape Photography Today who work in collaboration with the landscape by incorporating natural materials—from the sky, the earth, and the sea—into their photographic process. More
In celebration of New Territory: Landscape Photography Today on view at the Denver Art Museum June 24, 2018 through September 16, 2018, the next two lectures in the Anderman Photography Lecture Series will be given by artists participating in the exhibition: Adam Jeppesen and Sharon Harper. More
These DAM photography publications are available in the Shop and online.
- Companion to the Strauss Photography Collection at the Denver Art Museum. Eric Paddock. Denver Art Museum, 2014.
- Walking Magpie: On and Off the Leash. Chuck Forsman. Denver and Staunton, VA: Denver Art Museum and George F. Thompson Publishing, 2013.
- Robert Benjamin: Notes from a Quiet Life. Robert Benjamin. Santa Fe and Denver: Radius Books in cooperation with the Denver Art Museum, 2012.
- Prairie. Robert Adams. Denver and San Francisco: Denver Art Museum and Fraenkel Gallery, 2011.
- Eric Paddock, Curator
- Kim Roberts, Curatorial Assistant
- Micah Messenheimer, Curatorial Assistant