Baby photos are often used to convey the values and norms of adults. Parents, studio photographers and producers of adverts and magazines - all propagate an idealised image of the young child. In the exhibition both idealised and realistic directions were set alongside one another as thematic guidelines, giving rise to an intriguing field of tension, in which the baby photo not only emerged as a mirror of a specific era’s values and norms, but also of social habits and patterns, commercial trends and artistic developments.
With photos from family albums, postcards, advertising, scientific, documentary and creative photography, BABY presented a view of infants in every possible genre since the dawn of photography. Based on our scientific research, I curated this exhibition for the Nederlands Fotomuseum in Rotterdam in 2008 with co-curator Iris Sikking. In 2009, we made an adapted version for the National Media Museum (UK), with special thanks to Philippa Wright.
With work from Julia Margaret Cameron, Koos Breukel, Rineke Dijkstra, Ed van der Elsken, Nan Goldin, Jacques Henri Lartigue, Annie Leibovitz, Oscar Rejlander, August Sander, Mario Testino, Weegee, Boris Mikhailov, John Thomson, Walter Blum, Henri Berssenbrugge, Kors van Bennekom, Cecil Beaton, Philip Lorca diCorcia, Peter Martens, Mary Ellen Mark, Joseph Rodriguez, Lennart Nilsson, Larry Clark, Christina Garcia Rodero, Donna Ferrato, Annelies Strba, Dirk Kome, Sally Mann, Amy Arbus, Colby Katz, Rince de Jong, Tom Wood and many more.
Nederlands Fotomuseum, Rotterdam, NL, 2008
National Media Museum, Bradford, UK, 2009

Collection Spaarnestad Photo
Smoking baby, tinted gelatin silver postcard, ca. 1920. Collection Hedy van Erp

Anonymous, Saltprint, ca. 1850. Coll. Bibliotheque Nationale de Paris

Annie Leibovitz, Model and her son, 1998

Boris Mikhailov, Untitled, 2006

Painted ferrotype, ca.1890. Coll. Hedy van Erp
Joseph Rodriguez, The morning after a rival gang tried to shoot Chivo, he teaches his daughter how to hold a .32 caliber pistol. Boyle Heights, East L.A., 1993

Anonymous press photo, 'Diaper Derby-Beneath signs announcing their race names, baby crawlers are lined up by their mothers for the start of the Diaper Derby at Palisades Amusement Park in New Jersey', 1954. Coll. Spaarnestad Photo

Thijs Wolzak, BABY exhibition design by Preta Wolzak and Cecilia Hendrikx

Thijs Wolzak

Back to Top