Architecture has been an irresistible subject for photographers since the birth of the medium, and like buildings themselves, architectural photography can be different things to different people—a malleability explored in the excellent exhibition Architecture + Photography, on view at the Carnegie Museum of Art in Pittsburgh through May 26.
Using materials from the museum’s Heinz Architectural Center and Department of Photography, curator Tracy Myers and assistant Alyssum Skjeie built the show around four intersections between photography and architecture over a period of more than a century. The sexiest component by far is the recently-acquired portfolio of a dozen black and white Ezra Stoller photographs. A prominent mid-century architectural photographer, Stoller shot many now-iconic buildings, like Frank Lloyd Wright’s Guggenheim, Eero Saarinen’s JFK TWA Terminal, and Louis Kahn’s Salk Institute, as pieces of functional art. His 1962 photo of the interior of the TWA Terminal is particularly appealing for its composition—the undulating curves of Saarinen’s building embracing a small cohort of travelers and families as they pass through the front door into the chiaroscuro created by a flood of sunlight—as an impression of the era’s verve and idealism. But equally catching are his almost abstract images of Kitt Peak National Observatory, also from 1962, and the Salk Institute, taken in 1977, which seem to capture in microcosm the spirit of the buildings.