Acting Out: Cabinet Cards and the Making of Modern Photography (Hardcover)

Acting Out: Cabinet Cards and the Making of Modern Photography Cover Image
By John Rohrbach (Editor), Erin Pauwels (Contributions by), Britt Salvesen (Contributions by), Fernanda Valverde (Contributions by)
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Cabinet cards were America’s main format for photographic portraiture throughout the last quarter of the nineteenth century. Standardized at 6½ x 4¼ inches, they were just large enough to reveal extensive detail, leading to the incorporation of elaborate poses, backdrops, and props. Inexpensive and sold by the dozen, they transformed getting one’s portrait made from a formal event taken up once or twice in a lifetime into a commonplace practice shared with friends.
The cards reinforced middle-class Americans’ sense of family. They allowed people to show off their material achievements and comforts, and the best cards projected an informal immediacy that encouraged viewers to feel emotionally connected with those portrayed. The experience even led sitters to act out before the camera. By making photographs an easygoing fact of life, the cards forecast the snapshot and today’s ubiquitous photo sharing.
Organized by senior curator John Rohrbach, Acting Out is the first ever in-depth examination of the cabinet card phenomena. Full-color plates include over 100 cards at full size, providing a highly entertaining collection of these early versions of the selfie and ultimately demonstrating how cabinet cards made photography modern.
Published in association with the Amon Carter Museum of American Art.
Exhibition dates:
Amon Carter Museum of American Art: August 15–November 1, 2020
Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA): August 8–November 7, 2021

About the Author

John Rohrbach is Senior Curator of Photographs at the Amon Carter Museum of American Art.

Praise For…

"Acting Out adds to the historical narrative of photography."

— Dallas Morning News
Product Details
ISBN: 9780520306684
ISBN-10: 0520306686
Publisher: University of California Press
Publication Date: June 30th, 2020
Pages: 232
Language: English