A Gust of Photo-Philia

Photography in the Art Museum

Alexandra Moschovi

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Monograph - paperback

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The first transnational history of photography’s accommodation in the art museum
Photography was long regarded as a “middle-brow” art by the art institution. Yet, at the turn of the millennium, it became the hot, global art of our time. In this book—part institutional history, part account of shifting photographic theories and practices—Alexandra Moschovi tells the story of photography’s accommodation in and as contemporary art in the art museum. Archival research of key exhibitions and the contrasting collecting policies of MoMA, Tate, the Guggenheim, the V&A, and the Centre Pompidou offer new insights into how art as photography and photography as art have been collected and exhibited since the 1930s. Moschovi argues that this accommodation not only changed photography’s status in art, culture, and society, but also played a significant role in the rebranding of the art museum as a cultural and social site.  

This publication is GPRC-labeled (Guaranteed Peer-Reviewed Content).


A Foot in the Museum’s Door 
A Gust of Photo-Philia 
The Question of the Medium 
The Structure of the Book 

1. Photography Itself 
What is “Camera Esthetics”? 
A “Universal” Language 
Photography Itself 
“More Than One Photography” 
New Stories of Modern Art 
Navigating an “Ocean of Images” 

2. The Art(s) of Photography 
Art Education for “All Classes” 
A Collection for the Art of Photography 
Between Form and Function 
Toward the “Bigger Picture” 
Pluralism and Participation 

3. Art as Photography, Photography as Art 
Art as Photography 
The Unique Original Copy 
Who’s Afraid of Contemporary Art? 
A Photo-Philic Turn 
Embracing the Vernacular 
Photographies and Histories 
Engaging New Audiences 

4. Postmedia Pictures 
A “Postmedia” Collection in the Making 
A Global Museum 
Hybrid Images 
Accommodating the “Polymorphous” Photographic 
A New Poetics of the Photographic Image 

5. Between Images
Photography and the French State 
A Postmodern Museum 
A Collection for the Nation 
Episode 1: Plasticity and Hybridity 
Episode 2: Passages Between Media 
Episode 3: What is (Museum) Photography After All? 


Format: Monograph - paperback

Size: 230 × 170 × 21 mm

332 pages

b&w images

ISBN: 9789462702424

Publication: December 17, 2020

Series: Lieven Gevaert Series 29

Languages: English

Stock item number: 139199

Alexandra Moschovi is associate professor of photography and digital media in the Faculty of Arts and Creative Industries at the University of Sunderland.
Mit Alexandra Moschovis 'A Gust of Photo-Philia' liegt nun zum ersten Mal eine breit ange­legte systematische Rekonstruktion dieser Ereignisse vor. Genau wie Grundberg konzentriert sich auch Moschovi auf das künstleri­sche Feld der Fotografie, im Unterschied zu ihm öffnet sie den Radius ihres Interesses aber weit über Manhattan hinaus: In fünf ausgedehnten Fallstudien, die je ein Kapitel des Buches ausmachen, zeichnet sie die Entwicklungen in fünf international renommierten Ausstellungshäusern nach: Neben dem MoMA und dem Guggen­heim Museum in New York sind dies das Victoria and Albert und die Tate in London sowie das Musée National d’Art Modern im Pariser Centre Pompidou.
Steffen Siegel, Bd. 3 Nr. 4 (2022): 21: Inquiries into Art, History, and the Visual. Beiträge zur Kunstgeschichte und visuellen Kultur, https://doi.org/10.11588/xxi.2022.4.91686


This is an important and interesting book. […] this book is a real contribution to exhibition histories and/or curatorial studies, with a particular focus on large national museums. […] Moschovi's attention to the tensions between modes, and their non-resolution as photography is established in each museum, is what makes this book so fascinating.

Alison Green, Source, Issue 106, Autumn 2021

Dans tous les cas, cet ouvrage est dense, certes, mais il n’intéressera pas que les amateurs de musées ou les spécialistes des institutions. C’est d’abord une histoire de l’histoire de la photographie.
Stewen Corvez, Critique d’art [En ligne], 4 juni 2021, URL : http://journals.openedition.org/critiquedart/78003

The result of two decades of research into art institutions’ engagement with photography in all its forms, this book is a detailed and archivally-engaged examination of photography’s accommodation in the art museum.
Mary Pelletier, The Classic Platform, 26 May 2021
It retraces the history of how photography entered the art museum, a place where it initially did not have access to, and how this history has been a local as well as global phenomenon, as demonstrated by the five case studies that constitute the core of this book: MoMA, Tate, the Guggenheim, the V&A, and the Centre Pompidou. Moschovi unpacks these histories in great detail and a sharp eye for context, but also with great writing pleasure and craft, which makes her study almost a page-turner. [...] Moschovi succeeds in writing a new form of art history, with museums and photography as key players, which strikes the right balance between internal (artistic, historical) and external (political, financial, social) perspectives and concerns. Two or more worlds, perhaps, but the author gives us the best of them by bringing them together in this innovative study.
Jan Baetens, Leonardo Reviews Archive, April 2021