Arts and Culture / Magazine Feature

Four DU entities collaborate to exhibit Soviet photography

”]Soviet familyWhen history Associate Professor David Shneer began research for an upcoming book — Through Soviet Jewish Eyes: Photography, War and the Holocaust — he found that large collections of Soviet photographs had made their way to the U.S.

Some were works by the most well-known 20th century Soviet Jewish photographers, including Semyon Fridlyand, whose 12,000-image archive is now housed at the University of Denver.

Fridlyand built his 40-year career documenting the emergence of Soviet society, often in the pages ofOgonyok, the Soviet Union’s version of Lifemagazine.

University Art Collections Curator Dan Jacobs is collaborating with Shneer to make the Fridlyand Archive available to the public, which involves inventorying, scanning, cataloging and housing the photos in an online repository. Penrose Library and its partners at the Alliance Digital Repository are providing archival storage and online access to the work, while the Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL) is providing technical support for catalog and inventory viewing applications. Jacobs is outsourcing the work of scanning photographs.

“We will be the only University to have such a rich and robust system for viewing these historic photos on the Web,” says CTL Director Julanna Gilbert.

The goal is to have everything complete in time for the March 6 opening of the Myhren Gallery exhibit “On the Road: Photography of the Soviet Empire.” The exhibit will comprise approximately 70 images by Fridlyand and several images by his contemporaries.

“The legacy of these photographers and the story of their archives is only now being told,” says Shneer. “In the Soviet Union photography was not highly valued, so many families of the most famous photographers sold the photographs to international collectors when the Soviet Union opened up in the early 1990s.”

The Fridlyand Archive was loaned to the University of Denver by current owners Russ and Cathy Dalbey and the Dalbey Educational Institute, who have also donated funds to preserve, archive and display Fridlyand’s work. The project is a partnership of the Myhren Gallery and the Center for Judaic Studies, which Shneer directs.

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