The Oceanside Museum of Art is currently (2011) exhibiting the beautiful botanical images by Imogen Cunningham. This small museum located near Camp Pendleton Marine Base, on the coast of Southern California, is a hidden treasure that puts on some exhibits that make the drive worthwhile. I have never been disappointed in the past three years after discovering it.
I enjoyed a leisurely walk through an indoor garden of Cunningham’s floral and plant photographs like savoring a favorite dessert. Some of my personal favorites include: “Fantsia Papydifera” (1930), is sublime in its light and texture. “Calla Leaves” (late 1920’s), is a difficult image to expose, but Cunningham caught the extreme darks and lights, creating both a beautiful abstract shape when viewed from far away, as well as the texture and flowing composition when seen close up. “Sedum Cristate” (1920’s), is a gorgeous balance of composition, exposure, and texture. “Colletia Cruciata 7” (1929), is a playful image that evokes jet fighter planes all taking off at once. “Celery” (1925), is so delectable it seems as if it should taste like a mango rather than a vegetable. “Datura” (c 1930) and “Magnolia Blossom-Tower of Jewels” (1925) are simply masterpieces.
Cunningham’s quote on the museum wall reminds us all to keep looking beyond the surface. “Seeing is perhaps the greatest part in the education of a photographer”.
The following is from the San Diego Union Tribune:
She may not have the immediate name recognition of her friend and colleague Ansel Adams, but Cunningham is a towering figure in 20th-century photography. Arthur Ollman, the former director of San Diego’s Museum of Photographic Arts and head of the visual arts department at San Diego State University considers her “no more or no less important” than Adams, while Teri Sowell, the exhibit’s curator and the director of exhibitions and collections at the Oceanside Museum of Art, describes her as an artist who had “a profound influence on American photography and the modernist aesthetic.”
Read more about Cunningham’s exhibit by clicking here.