Editor's note: The Morris Museum of Art provided source material to Resource Library for the following article. The included gallery guide text was reprinted in Resource Library on April 30, 2008 with the permission of the Morris Museum of Art and the author. If you have questions or comments regarding the texts, please contact the Morris Museum of Art directly through either this phone number or web address:


A. Aubrey Bodine: Baltimore Pictorialist

May 3 - July 13, 2008 


A. Aubrey Bodine: Baltimore Pictorialist opens to the public on Saturday, May 3 at the Morris Museum of Art in Augusta, Georgia. This exhibition includes a representative sampling of the work of renowned photojournalist A. Aubrey Bodine, a photographer in the pictorialist style, who worked at the Baltimore Sun for fifty years.

"Long before Robert Capa and Alfred Eisenstadt became famous for their Life magazine photo-essays, Aubrey Bodine, week in and week out, year in and year out, was producing a remarkably rich and eloquent photographic document of his beloved Maryland on assignment for the Baltimore Sun. Because of him, readers of the Sun came to know every part of the state, from the Atlantic seaboard to the rolling farm lands of western Montgomery County to the clangor of Baltimore," said Kevin Grogan, executive director of the Morris Museum of Art.

Through a small sampling of the thousands and thousands of photographs that Bodine shot through the length of this career from the early 1920s until his death in 1970, the exhibition includes classic examples of his rural, urban, and maritime images. Best remembered for his photographs of the Chesapeake Bay and its watermen, Bodine worked in the same romantic pictorial tradition as Alfred Stieglitz and Edward Steichen. The first photographer to be awarded a fellowship in both the Photographic Society of America and the National Press Photographers Association, Bodine was recognized and honored as one of the world's great photographers by his peers. Kathleen Ewing, author of A. Aubrey Bodine, Baltimore Pictorialist, 1906-1970 and an expert on Bodine's work, is working with the Morris Museum on the organization of the exhibition which will appear only in Augusta.


Artist's Biography

Aubrey Bodine began his photographic career in 1923 when, as an office boy with the Baltimore Sun, he submitted photographs to the editor of the paper and they were published. From that day forward Bodine was a newspaperman covering a variety of stories with his camera, including news events, famous people, unusual places, and curious activities. Out of this experience came remarkable documentary pictures of the highest quality -- far beyond the standard photographs of newspaper work. Bodine also began submitting photographs to national and international salon competitions, where he consistently won top honors.

Bodine was a perfectionist who would manipulate photographs through a variety of techniques-working on negatives with dyes and intensifiers, pencil marking, scraping, and adding elements photographically -- in order to create the ideal image.

"Bodine's rationale for all these technical alterations of the natural scene was simply that, like the painter, he worked from the model and selected those features which suited his sense of mood, proportion, and design. The picture was the thing, not the manner of arriving at it.  He did not take a picture, he made a picture."  (Jennifer B. Bodine; www.aaubreybodine.com).


Related Events

Tuesday, May 6
Public Exhibition Opening: A. Aubrey Bodine: Baltimore Pictorialist. 6:00-8:00 p.m. Jennifer Bodine, daughter of the late Aubrey Bodine, discusses her father's long and productive photographic career. Reception and conversation with the speaker follow. 
Friday, June 20, 10:30 a.m.
Gallery Talk with Kevin Grogan: A. Aubrey Bodine: Baltimore Pictorialist. 10:30-11:30 a.m. Free for members and registered Augusta Photography Festival participants; nonmembers, regular museum admission.


Gallery guide text

A. Aubrey Bodine: Baltimore Pictorialist
A. Aubrey Bodine, Baltimore pictorialist and newspaper photographer, lit the pages of the Baltimore Sun with his extraordinary talent for forty-five years. He left behind a large body of photographs, chronicling nearly every aspect of Maryland life from 1924 to 1970. Judging by the number of national and international awards his pictures won, I would say my father's photographs are art in the finest sense of the word. Bodine was most proud that his winning pictures came from newspaper assignment shoots. He was recognized and honored as one of the world's greatest photographers by his peers, fellow photographers. Bodine was the first photographer to be awarded a fellowship in both the Photographic Society of America and the National Press Photographers Association.
Bodine's art speaks to the soul. People have always been moved by his images. Letters from admirers fill his personal papers. Condolence letters at his death were testaments to the warmth and beauty he conveyed to his audience. Comments from buyers of his digitally restored reprints and note cards prove his work still grabs people's hearts. I hear from people today who are enchanted by his work. Bodine photographs are timeless.
He saw beauty everywhere. Bodine saw shapes and angles where you and I would see only a bridge. He said he found pictures everywhere he went; it was just a matter of walking around and finding the best angle.
When asked for advice about shooting great photographs, Bodine offered several gems. "Do the common thing uncommonly" was his mantra. He advised inquiring novices to go out at night and in bad weather. In the process of scanning and categorizing his images, I have been struck by how dangerous some of these shoots were. He hung over the sides of boats in heavy weather and high seas, although he could not swim. He went into dangerous places alone in the middle of the night and set up his shots with expensive camera gear. Bodine was fearless in the face of personal danger when it came to getting the perfect picture. He was the consummate perfectionist.
He advised would-be photographers to go to school and study design. Bodine attended the Maryland Institute College of Art and said it was the best investment he ever made. Also, a willingness to work hard is a must. No one worked harder at his art than A. Aubrey Bodine. As a child, I had no idea that most grown-ups worked only five days a week, typically from 9:00 to 5:00. He worked all the time. Family vacations, all in Maryland, found him scoping the area looking for interesting pictures. He believed that every aspiring photographer needs an alarm clock: he took some of his best pictures before, during, and right after sunrise.
Bodine pretty much disappeared from public awareness after his death in 1970. In 2000, Maryland Public Television made a documentary about six Maryland photographers, including Bodine. This event inspired my husband, Richard Orban, to bring Bodine's work back to life. By sheer force of will and thirty-five years of computer experience, Richard has been the driving force in making Bodine's artistry available once again. To this end, he designed a web site, and the business of Bodine was launched. I have scanned more than 13,000 Bodine photographs, with 4,000 images already posted. There are still many more to be scanned. More than 1,100 of these pictures have been digitally repaired. I have removed dust, splotches, cracks, and emulsion spots. Some photographs have been quite damaged. Many are old; many have endured the brutality of the printing pressroom, and many have traveled around the world in exhibitions. Bodine's photographs were always working pictures.
Technology only recently made this revival and restoration work possible. Bodine's work is too good to be forgotten, left in drawers and boxes. It must 1ive on. This exhibition is a tribute to A. Aubrey Bodine: Baltimore pictorialist, Sun photographer, and one of the greatest photographers who ever lived. And now, please enjoy his pictures.
Jennifer B. Bodine, J.D., M.A.,
Denton, Maryland
Adapted from an essay in Bodine's Chesapeake Bay Country, edited by Jennifer B. Bodine.
Note: The photographs in the exhibition are vintage prints, produced by A. Aubrey Bodine during his lifetime, and have not been digitally restored. Restored digital images may be viewed at www.aaubreybodine.com.
All photographs by A. Aubrey Bodine. Copyright © Jennifer B. Bodine.

Selected images from the exhibition

above: A. Aubrey Bodine, Fells Point, 1950. Copyright Jennifer B. Bodine.)


above: A. Aubrey Bodine, Longshoremen, 1955. Copyright Jennifer B. Bodine.)


above: A. Aubrey Bodine, Misty Harbor, 1955. Copyright Jennifer B. Bodine.)

Resource Library editor's note

Resource Library wishes to extend appreciation to Nicole McLeod, Director of Marketing + PR, Morris Museum of Art, for her help concerning permissions for reprinting the above text.

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