Amazing Manipulated Photographs from a Pre-Photoshop World

“Photoshopped!” The very word can send an analog photographer’s snobbery and/or justified pride into overload. Photoshop? How dare they! But while we’re cringing at HDR skylines, erased freckles, and contrast tweaks that are all too common today, photographers have been manipulating images since way before the digital age. And so, The Metropolitan Museum of Art presents Faking It: Manipulated Photography Before Photoshop

Featuring over 200 photographs created between the 1840s and the 1990s, the show offers up a bevy of curiosities and ah-ha moments. Explore multiple exposures, combination printing, photomontage, overpainting, and retouching of negatives. See Stalin’s purged enemies disappear from news photos right before your eyes! Check out Weegee’s contorted and twisted portraits of important men! See monochrome scenes dotted with pigment to imitate life! Fairies! Catwomen! Dali-like landscapes! Take a look in our slideshow preview. Be amazed.

Grete Stern (Argentinian, born Germany, 1904-1999), Sueño No. 1: Articulos eléctricos para el hogar, Dream No. 1: Electrical Appliances for the Home, 1948. Gelatin silver printhe Metropolitan Museum of Art, Twentieth-Century Photography Fund, 2012 (2012.10). Courtesy of Galería Jorge Mara – La Ruche, Buenos Aires