Posing, pimping, photo post today is a matter of course, but carefully planned self-staging has a long tradition. Styled portrait photos were already popular almost 200 years ago. This is shown by the first online exhibition of the Museum für Kunst und Kulturgeschichte Dortmund, MKK. Via website and also live in the museum study room, the photographic phenomenon of the cabinet card becomes a topic.
Creating a photographic portrait is an indispensable part of today's image culture and has never been easier. A press of a camera's shutter button or a smartphone's screen is all it takes to visualize one's physical presence in the world. But it wasn't always this way. Around 1840, the first commercial photo studios opened in Europe and the United States. They quickly became popular social gathering places where the previously unique experience of being photographed became an everyday practice. Since then, portrait photography underwent rapid development in terms of forms, quality, and price, and became a mass commodity.
The online exhibition Out of the Box provides the first insight into the extensive photographic collection of photographer and collector Harald Mante acquired by the MKK Dortmund in the mid-1980s. In the course of developing this collection, the museum presents an almost forgotten photographic phenomenon: the cabinet card - a standardized image format that was especially popular in portrait photography in the second half of the 19th century. The digital exhibition format invites visitors to immerse themselves in the collection's holdings, which have never been shown before, and to discover this multifaceted pictorial medium, its formal language, and its use of images.
Figure: Portrait of a young girl, Atelier Lackner Vienna, cabinet photograph, ca. 1900.This content has been machine translated.