The SFMOMA presents a photo exhibition to unravel us as to our talents as a photographer. The exhibition, DON’T! Photography and the Art of Mistakes, starts from a manifesto published in 1909 by Alfred Stieglitz. In this manuel, he makes fun of the photographers’ manuals, where he lists the errors not to commit to make a successful photo.

DON’T explains the major mistakes, and shows you that a failed photograph can actually become a work of art. Solarization, distortion, motion blur, double exposure … so many mistakes to avoid in order to create a successful SFMOMA DON'T! expophotograph, as explained in the manuals of photography. DON’T shows you how great photographers have overcome these rules to create artistic images.

SFMOMA DON'T! expoFrom Man Ray, to Lee Friedlander, through Atget, each room is devoted to one or two “errors” and shows  examples of  how the artists have embraced “mistakes” as an aesthetic concept. László Moholy-Nagy, one of the most important figures of the avant-garde photography, has learned a lot by looking at the mistakes of the amateurs and declared that “the enemy of photography is the convention, the rules of how to make “.

Clément Chéroux explains that “this exhibition examines the most common categories of errors, compiled from hundreds of photographic manuals, as well as some of the large photographs in the SFMOMA collection and the private collections of the Bay Area. Juxtaposition shows the extreme relativity of taste. What is considered a mistake in a textbook may not be seen as such, on the walls of a museum. Moreover, today’s mistakes could be the successes of tomorrow.”

Lee Friedlander, Shadow-NYC, 1966

Additionally, the poster of the exhibition is the photo called “Details”, a photo by contemporary artist Sarah Cwynar, and shows us that even in the digital era one cannot resist … to resist the rules!

The curator of this exhibition is Clément Chéroux, assisted by Sally Martin Katz and Matthew Kluk.

Dates: July 20th to Dec 1st, 2019
SFMOMA – 151 Third Street – San Francisco

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