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Must-See Photography Exhibits in Boston

From major retrospective showcases to intimate juried exhibits, from portraits and landscapes to historical photos, there are a variety of great photography events and exhibits in and around Boston. Check out our roundup of must-see exhibits; take your DSLR (or a humble disposable), and see these works for some creative inspiration.
8/1 Arts & Culture - Catherine Opie
Catherine Opie, Untitled #5 (Inauguration Portrait), 2009. (credit: ICA Boston)

Catherine Opie: Empty and Full

Through September 5
Institute of Contemporary Art
100 Northern Avenue
Boston, MA
(617) 478-3100

Hours: Tuesday and Wednesday, 10 am–5 pm
Thursday and Friday, 10 am–9 pm
Saturday and Sunday, 10 am–5 pm
$15 general admission; $13 seniors; $10 students
Website | Directory

In this sweeping exhibition, Catherine Opie, known for her portraits and landscapes, explores the ties between community and politics, citizens and the landscape, and offers a compelling look at modern American society. Don't miss the series Inauguration, which documents the crowds that came together in Washington, DC, for President Barack Obama's inauguration and captures moments of hope and unity. These images from the inauguration and images from other gatherings, including the annual convening of the Boy Scouts of America, juxtapose nicely with starkly beautiful images of the ocean. These images, from a body of work called Twelve Miles to the Horizon, were taken over a period of 10 days--one at sunrise, and one sunset.

8/1 Arts & Culture - Violet Isle
Rebecca Norris Webb. Havana, Cuba, 2008. (credit: MFA Boston website)

Violet Isle: A Photographic Portrait of Cuba by Alex Webb and Rebecca Norris Webb

Through January 16, 2012
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
Avenue of the Arts
465 Huntington Avenue
Boston, MA
(617) 267-9300

Hours: Mon–Tue: 10 am–4:45 pm
Wed–Fri: 10 am–9:45 pm
Sat–Sun: 10 am–4:45 pm
Members FREE; Adults $22; Seniors (65+) $20; Students (18+) $20
Website | Directory

Nicknamed the "Violet Isle" because of the color of its soil, artists have long been fascinated with the sights and sounds of Cuba. Photographers Alex Webb and Rebecca Norris Webb became fascinated with the Caribbean island some twenty years ago, and made eleven trips to photograph there between 1993 and 2008. In this exhibition, the couple captures the color and vibrancy in perfect harmony. Alex captures eye-catching street scenes and people, and Rebecca focuses on the animals that she encountered. Together, the photographers' images form a layered portrait of a lively and intriguing country.

8/1 Arts & Culture - Mathew Brady
(credit: Boston Public Library)

Photo by Brady: The Civil War Through the Lens of Mathew Brady

Through September 30
Boston Public Library
Copley Square
Rare Books Library
700 Boylston Street
Boston, MA

Hours: Mon - Fri from 9 a.m. - 5 p.m.
Closed Saturday and Sunday
Website | Directory

When Civil War broke out, Mathew Brady received permission from President Abraham Lincoln to follow the Union troops and document the battles and the bloody aftermaths. Brady and a team of photographers captured unforgettable scenes of sorrow and violence. Much of what we know about the Civil War comes from the pictorial archive that resulted from these photographs, all stamped "Photo by Brady." The exhibition draws from the collection of about 375 Civil War photographs taken by Mathew Brady, his colleague Alexander Gardner, and others from the Brady studio.

8/1 Arts & Culture - Griffin Museum
Mary, Raina Matar (credit: Griffin Museum website)

17th Juried Exhibition Juror Debra Klomp Ching

Through August 29
Griffin Museum of Photography
67 Shore Road
Winchester, MA
(781) 729-1158

Hours: Tuesday - Thursday: 11AM - 5PM
Friday: 11AM - 4PM
Saturday and Sunday: Noon - 4PM
$7; Seniors: $3; Thursdays are free
Website | Directory

Debra Klomp Ching, co-owner of the Klompching Gallery in New York, served as the juror of the 17th Griffin Museum Juried Exhibition, on view in the Main Gallery through August 29. According to Ching, the final selections for the exhibit "demonstrate carefully conceived and executed photographs that caused an intake of breath or insisted on being `read' by causing a spark of intellectual and visual curiosity." A highlight of the show is the work of Raina Matar, who was chosen as the winner of the Arthur Griffin Legacy Award, which captures striking portraits of young women in the habitat of their bedrooms.

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