The Language of Hands: Photographs from The Buhl Collection

Westwood Gallery NYC

Sep. 8, 2024 - Oct. 28, 2017

262 Bowery
New York, 10012
PHONE 212-925-5700

WESTWOOD GALLERY NYC is pleased to present an extraordinary exhibition of over 80 photographs from the collection of visionary New York philanthropist and collector Henry M. Buhl. The photographs span the history of photography from 19th century pioneers to masters of the 20th century, all exploring the theme of the human hand and its various interpretations. This is the first gallery exhibition, outside of a museum or auction house, to allow the public an opportunity to view and acquire photographs from the remaining historic collection.

In 1993, Henry Buhl acquired an Alfred Stieglitz 1920 photograph of Georgia O’Keeffe’s hands, which inspired him to collect the largest photographic ‘hand’ themed collection in the world. After 20 years the collection grew to over 1,100 photographs exhibited in museums worldwide. Thereafter, Mr. Buhl offered a large portion of the collection at auction in 2012 to generate funding for his non-profit organization (Association of Community Employment Programs for the Homeless).

The exhibition curated by James Cavello aims to highlight the metaphoric value of hands through diverse images and styles as photography came of age, presented in chronological order. The earliest image on view is a potassium-fixed paper negative,The Phrenologist, 1849, by Alphonse de Brébisson as well as historical photographs by Julia Margaret Cameron, 1868, Louise Dahl-Wolfe, 1930, and Alfred Eisenstaedt, 1951. The collection also highlights contemporary masters such as Mary Ellen Mark, Tetsu Okuhara, Arnold Newman, Klaus Rinke, Dawoud Bey and many others. Images range from surrealist compositions (Horst P. Horst’s Lisa: Hands with Vase & Flower, 1941, photographs by György Kepes, Pavel Banka and Bill Beckley) to social and civil rights imagery in the photographs by Vernoll Coleman, Danny Lyon and Lewis Hine; also on view are portraits of personalities such as Willem de Kooning, photographed by Dan Budnick, and Keith Haring by Claudio Elisabetsky. The collection represented a unique example of an individual’s passion to pursue and acquire a specific theme represented in two centuries of photographic art.

A major exhibition of photographs from The Buhl Collection entitled Speaking With Hands was on view at The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York City in 2004. The exhibition traveled internationally from 2005-7 to the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao in Spain, Museum Folkwang in Essen, Germany, the State Russian Museum, St. Petersburg and the Moscow Museum of Modern Art. In 2008, an exhibition of both photography and sculpture was on view at the Norton Museum of Art in West Palm Beach, Florida and from 2009 – 2011 an exhibition of 150 works from the collection toured Asia (on view in museums in Korea, Taiwan and Macao). The 2012 Sotheby’s sale of selected photographs from The Buhl Collection was the largest single-owner sale of a privately owned photography collection, bringing in over $12 million.

Mr. Henry Buhl is an active philanthropist, in addition to founding Association of Community Employment for the Homeless (A.C.E.) with programs for job training and placement for homeless men and women, he also founded The Buhl Foundation to assist non-profit programs within its mission.

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