Bright Sparks: Photography and the Talbot Archive

About the exhibition

Bright Sparks: Photography and the Talbot Archive celebrates the Bodleian Libraries' acquisition of the archive of the British inventor of photography, William Henry Fox Talbot, and the legacy of his life and work.

This fascinating exhibition puts items from the archive in conversation with the works of contemporary artists. It brings the archive to life in new ways, showcasing how Talbot’s work influenced and inspired other artists. Bright Sparks creates a dialogue between past and present – between Talbot’s pioneering experiments and the practices and concerns of later photographers.

The exhibition includes key works from the Bodleian Libraries’ collections alongside photography by figures such as Hiroshi Sugimoto, Cornelia Parker, Man Ray, Martin Parr, Carleton Watkins, Daniel Meadows, Helen Muspratt, Julia Margaret Cameron, Camille Corot, Kilian Brier, Anne Ferran, Alison Rossiter, Gerhard Richter and Garry Fabian Miller.


Image credit: Three plants, William Henry Fox Talbot, c.1843: photogenic drawing paper negative by contact (Bodleian Library MS. 21088 photogr. 2, fol. 8r)


This exhibition is curated by Geoffrey Batchen, Professor of the History of Art at the University of Oxford and a specialist in the history of photography.

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