They say a picture is worth a thousand words, and the Barnes Foundation's latest exhibition explores the masterworks of French photography like never before.
It's called Live and Life Will Give You Pictures, and it explores the modernization of France during the 19th and 20th century through a photographic lens.
"This is the first exhibition of photography here at the Barnes Foundation," says Executive Director Thom Collins.
He says the show includes 170 photographs by 24 artists living and working in France from 1890 to 1950, "It really covers every genre of photography from portraiture to landscape to still life and beyond."
It's organized into 8 themes that explore the development of France and photography during this period," Ideas like the transformation of Paris," says Collins, "It talks about commerce and labor and leisure."
One of the more fun sections of the exhibition surveys photographers who turned ordinary people into celebrities.
Collins specifically cited 20th century American photographer Man Ray's portrait of a woman who came to be known as Kiki de Montparnasse, "who transformed herself through an invented hairstyle and a kind of very elaborate make-up" and a 1931 piece by IIse Bing, "She documents what's going on at the at the sort of very decadent night club, the Moulin Rouge, which was most famous, of course, for the scandalous cancan dance."
All of the pieces are on loan from the private collection of Michael Mattis and Judy Hochberg.
"It is truly extraordinary," says Collins, "If you are interested in the history of photography, if you're interested in France, if you're interested in any of the ideas described in the sub themes of this exhibition, this is a great opportunity to explore them."
Live and Life Will Give You Pictures is on display at the Barnes Foundation until January 9th.
For tickets and museum hours, go to www.TheArtsinPhilly.org.