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Snap Noir: Snapshot Stories from the Collection of Robert E. Jackson

June 20–August 21, 2013

32 East 57th Street, 9th Floor, New York, NY


Installation Views

Selected Works

New York, May 28, 2013 — Pace/MacGill Gallery is pleased to present Snap Noir: Snapshot Stories from the Collection of Robert E. Jackson. The exhibition will be on view from June 20 through August 21, 2013 and features selections of anonymous vernacular photographs carefully chosen and sequenced by Jackson from his collection of over 11,000 snapshots.

The introduction of the Kodak camera by George Eastman in 1888 launched the genre of amateur snapshot photography. The majority of early snapshots were made primarily for personal reasons – to commemorate important events or achievements, to document vacations or road trips, or to capture casual portraits of family members and loved ones – essentially serving as visual surrogates for memory by preserving moments in time. Now removed from their original context of the family album and the private narratives that initially imbued them with personal relevance and value, these anonymous images of unknown provenance take on new meaning when reordered and recontextualized. They become aesthetic objects that can, as Jackson observes, "be appreciated and studied as both nostalgic curiosities and sociological artifacts." With their often abrupt cropping, tilted horizons, out of focus subjects, and unintentional double exposures, amateur snapshots possess a sense of inventiveness and visual charm that are both unexpected and strangely compelling. Moreover, when arranged typologically by subject matter, formal device, or viewpoint, these pictures can create narrative resonances never intended by their makers.

In Snap Noir, Jackson presents groups of similarly related snapshots, or "stories," which are meant to be viewed collectively. Whether comprised of 4 or 21 photographs, each visual vignette allows viewers to derive their own interpretations and meanings as they confront and react to the assembled pictures. From the subtly unsettling and almost cinematic images of Snap Noir, to the voyeuristic views taken through chain link fences, and portraits of a man proudly posing in bikinis on a building rooftop, Jackson's snapshot stories remind us that these found photographs cannot be approached in a traditional way, as they "exist simply to be experienced."

Robert E. Jackson has collected snapshots for over a decade. His collection was the subject of the exhibition and accompanying catalogue, The Art of the American Snapshot: 1888-1978, at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. in 2007, which travelled to the Amon Carter Museum, Fort Worth, Texas in early 2008. Other publications on Jackson's collection include Pure Photography (Ampersand Gallery & Fine Books, Portland, OR 2011) and The Seduction of Color (Marquand Books, Seattle 2012). His snapshots were also featured in Ransom Riggs's bestselling young adult book, Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children (2011), and in Ambach & Rice's exhibition, Lost & Found: Anonymous Photography in Reflection, in Los Angeles in 2012. Jackson holds an MA degree in Art History from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill and an MBA from the University of Texas, Austin. He lives in Seattle and actively collects all types of found photography, including cabinet cards, arcade photographs, and photo-collages from the 1870s through the early 20th century.

For more information about Snap Noir: Snapshot Stories from the Collection of Robert E. Jackson or press requests, please contact Nicollette Eason at Pace/MacGill Gallery, 212.759.7999 or For general inquiries, please email

One of the world's leading photography galleries, Pace/MacGill has been dedicated to advancing fine art photography for 30 years. Known for discovering artists, representing masters, and placing important collections and archives into major public institutions, Pace/MacGill has presented some 200 exhibitions and published numerous catalogues on modern and contemporary photography. Founded in 1983 by Peter MacGill, in collaboration with Arne Glimcher of Pace and Richard Solomon of Pace Editions, Pace/MacGill is located at 32 East 57th Street in New York City.

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