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California Women Artists

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Mills College Art Gallery [Original Front Entrance]

20th Century
9 5/8 in. x 7 3/8 in. (24.45 cm x 18.73 cm)

Imogen Cunningham, American, (1883–1976)

Object Type: Photography and Video
Creation Place: North America, United States, California
Medium and Support: Gelatin silver print
Credit Line: Gift of the Albert M. Bender Estate
Accession Number: 1942.130.b
This image was taken in Imogen Cunningham’s back yard: the Mills College campus. At this time, the landscape of the college was changing drastically with the prolific work of notable architect Walter Ratcliff, Jr.—whose tenure as Architect and Planner for the college stretched from 1923 to 1947. The year 1925 marked the opening of the Mills College Art Gallery (now the Mills College Art Museum, or MCAM), one of Ratcliff’s first projects on campus. Cunningham’s photographs taken on the 135-acre campus during this period provide a visual record of the process. As the wife of Roi Partridge—the first Director of the Mills College Art Gallery—she
lived on campus, and spent a lot of time documenting its aesthetic nuances.

This image of the original entrance to the gallery portrays the extravagant stone facade within the context of its proper time and place—the Spanish Colonial Revival style was popular in California in the 1920s. Ratcliff’s “take” on the style is characterized by his use of stone facades, paired with the signature elements of the architectural style: the roofing tiles, arched doorways and great wood paneled doors.

One of Cunningham’s great strengths as a photographer was being able to present a close-up of her subject matter as both a portrait and a microcosm of its context—a strategy she developed in great part through her work here at Mills.

--Iona de la Torre, December 2015

Exhibition List
This object was included in the following exhibitions:

  • Sheet Dimensions: 9 5/8 in. x 7 3/8 in. (24.45 cm x 18.73 cm)
  • Mat Dimensions: 20 in. x 16 in. (50.8 cm x 40.64 cm)

Bibliography List
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