Experience the world in GRAM’s new photography collection

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GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) – An art collector who has amassed nearly 700 pieces of a collection has donated them all to be on display at the Grand Rapids Art Museum.

“It’s such a joy,” said Judy Glickman Lauder said about the collection.

“I never meant to be a collector, but they started piling up in my home and I had no more drawer space and no more wall space and, so everything went on long-term loan to the Portland Maine Museum of Art with the idea that I would bequeath it,” she explained.

Lauder fell in love with black-and-white still images when she was a child. Her father was highly skilled photographer, and she was always around it. Fifty years ago, she started collecting them.

Her collection grew so vast over five decades that in September of last year, she donated it on a long-term loan to Portland Museum of Art. On Feb. 11, part of that collection will be on display in Grand Rapids, the first time it has traveled.

“In the collection, you’re going to see moments of history. You’re going to see Robert F. Kennedy at his height and the electricity that he created. You’re also going to see people standing by a railroad track watching the train, carrying his body from New York to Arlington to DC,” Lauder said. “There’s fun, there’s quirkiness, there’s joy, there’s fashion, there’s celebrity, there’s beauty, a lot of beauty, and there’s also a lot of social consciousness, a lot of civil rights, Holocaust.”

The GRAM will be home to 145 pieces of the images in the exhibition, called Presence: The Photography Collection of Judy Glickman Lauder until April 29.

It will showcase works by 70 artists, including famous photographers such as Berenice Abbott, Diane Arbus, Richard Avedon, Danny Lyon, Sally Mann, Gordon Parks, and James Van Der Zee, as well as critical contributors to the history of photography such as Irving Bennett Ellis, Graciela Iturbide, Lotte Jacobi, and Alma Lavenson.

Lauder also has her own photography on display in the exhibit. She spent three years in Poland, Czechoslovakia, Germany, France, and Bulgaria capturing Holocaust concentration camps, former ghettos, train tracks, and the surviving heroes of the Holocaust.

“It was an amazing, uplifting experience for me, but it also shows that we can make a difference,” Lauder said. “It shows the depths, ’cause I’ve done so much with Holocaust, but it also shows that man can make a difference. We don’t have to be bystanders.”

Lauder said that photography is similar – a single image can tell a story, history, a movement and can make a difference.

“As human beings, we go the whole gamut and photography captures that,” Lauder said. “It’s humanity, we relate to it.”

The exhibit is arranged in a series of thematic sections, including portraiture, joy, delight, serendipity, the urban experience, civil rights, labor issues, the Holocaust and nature.

“The Grand Rapids Art Museum’s presentation of Presence offers a thoughtful and nuanced perspective of the world through the eyes of some of the best-known and most influential photographers of the past century,” GRAM Associate Curator Jennifer Wcisel said. “The exhibition … offers a unique perspective that will excite and challenge our audiences to see and think about the world differently.”

Lauder said it is impossible for her to pick a favorite from her nearly 700-piece collection, but there are pieces in the display at the GRAM that are turning points for her like the first one she bought 50 years ago: Jerry Uelsmann’s “Small Woods Where I Met Myself.”

 “I love coming here to Grand Rapids and seeing the exhibit in a whole new environment and just reliving and re-seeing these images,” Lauder said.

The exhibit opens on Feb. 11 and runs through April 29. For more information, visit the Grand Rapids Art Museum website.

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