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Harvard Art Museums acquires treasure trove of photos

Richard Avedon’s photo of The Beatles, from the Schneider/Erdman photography acquisition.

Harvard Art Museums

Richard Avedon’s photo of The Beatles, from the Schneider/Erdman photography acquisition.

The Harvard Art Museums have acquired an impressive collection of printer’s proof photographs from celebrated photographer Gary Schneider and his partner John Erdman. The photos — there are 443 in all — will be featured in “Analog Culture: Printer’s Proofs from the Schneider/Erdman Photography Lab, 1981–2001,” an exhibition opening next May.

In addition to the photos, Schneider and Erdman have arranged for the museums to get the Schneider/Erdman Archive of photography, test prints, glass plate negatives, vintage material, and records from their Manhattan-based photography — Schneider/Erdman Inc. — as well as 30 European modernist photographs from their personal collection.

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“We are extraordinarily lucky to have such a deep and strong relationship with these two thought-provoking artists and master craftsmen,” Martha Tedeschi, the Elizabeth and John Moors Cabot Director of the Harvard Art Museums, said in a statement. “Through their generosity and commitment, Gary and John have helped preserve the knowledge and processes of photographic printmaking in the 1980s and ’90s for the benefit of generations to come.”

Over the course of three decades, Schneider and Erdman’s printer’s proof collection grew to represent hundreds of works of art by many of the most significant and influential artists of the day, including Richard Avedon, Matthew Barney, Peter Campus, James Casebere, Louise Dahl-Wolf, Eric Fischl, Robert Gober, Nan Goldin, Peter Hujar, Mary Ellen Mark, Gilles Peress, John Schabel, Lorna Simpson,and David Wojnarowicz, among many others.

“It’s exciting for us that the collection will be protected here,” Schneider said in a statement. “When we talked to the artists represented in the collection, we told them that the proofs would be seen and used, and would be conserved and handled correctly; the artists were thrilled.”

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