Decisive Moments: Photographs from the Collection of Cherye R. and James F. Pierce

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    Jim Naughten. 'Herero Woman in Patchwork Dress,' 2012. C-Type print. ©Jim Naughten. Image: courtesy of Klompching Gallery, New York City.

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    Sandy Skoglund. 'Fresh Hybrid,' 2008. Pigmented inkjet print. Gift of The Contemporary Museum, Honolulu, 2011, and gift of Dr. and Mrs. James F. Pierce, 2009. ©2008 Sandy Skoglund

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    Douglas D. Prince (American, born 1942). 'Adel and the Lightning,' 1972. Vintage gelatin silver print. © Douglas D. Prince

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December 18, 2013 - June 08, 2014
Honolulu Museum of Art

Exhibition Overview

Decisive Moments is drawn from the extensive, rich collection of 20th-century and contemporary photographs assembled over 40 years by Jim and Cherye Pierce.

French photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson wrote in the preface to his 1952 book Images à la Sauvette (published as Decisive Moments in the U.S.), “To me, photography is the simultaneous recognition, in a fraction of a second, of the significance of an event as well as of a precise organization of forms which give that event its proper expression.” His well-known “decisive moment” image Behind the Gare St. Lazare, of a man in mid-step over a puddle, opens this exhibition. His capturing that precise moment imbues the image with its visual power and magic.

This exhibition of 80 images from the Pierce collection examines the idea of the decisive moment as it has evolved in photographic practice from the early 20th century to the present—from Cartier-Bresson’s well-timed click of the camera shutter to Sandy Skoglund’s Fresh Hybrid, in which she created an elaborate scene of found materials and real and fake models. Over the last century photographers have had a much more deliberate, manipulative approach, conceptualizing and constructing their own decisive moments, controlling the visual, psychological, and emotional impact of their images through darkroom techniques, the staging of images, the use of new technologies such as computer digital imaging, and the incorporation of non-photographic media and materials.

The exhibition examines these strategies through the works of:

Berenice Abbott, Diane Arbus, Luis Cruz Azaceta, Jamie Baldridge, Herbert Bayer, Bill Brandt, Brassaï, Dan Burkholder, Harry Callahan, Henri Cartier-Bresson, William Clift, Binh Danh, Dawn DeDeaux, Robert Doisneau, Andrew and Stuart Douglas, John Patrick Dugdale, William Eggleston, Lalla Essaydi, Dan Estabrook, Joan Fontcuberta, Michael Garlington, Luis Gonzalez Palma, Todd Hido, Kenro Izu, Lotte Jacobi, Bill Jacobson, Krista Jurisich, Yousuf Karsh, Thomas Kellner, André Kertesz, Hyeyoung Kim, Soo Kim, Heinrich Kuhn, Mona Kuhn, Louvière+Vanessa, Deborah Luster, Vera Lutter, Clarence John Laughlin, Danny Lyon, Michal Macku, Robert Mapplethorpe, Maria Martinez-Cañas, Duane Michals, Joseph Mills, Wendell MacRae, Don McCullin, Arno Raffael Minkinnen, Lisette Model, Sarah Moon, Daido Moriyama, Todd Murphy, Jim Naughten, Irving Penn, Doug Prince, Holly Roberts, Meridel Rubenstein, Josephine Sacabo, Aaron Siskind, Sandy Skoglund, Jack Spencer, Doug and Mike Starn, Edward Steichen, Alfred Stieglitz, Paul Strand, Dan Tague, Maggie Taylor, Jerry Uelsmann, Theodore Fonville Winans, Michael Wolf.

Hear more about Cherye and Jim Pierce and how they started collecting from this blog post.

More photography
The Pierce collection is so rich and deep that Theresa Papanikolas, curator of European and American art, has created four accompanying tightly focused exhibitions.

Critters! Animal Pictures from the Collection of Cherye R. and James F. Pierce
November 29-March 2, John Dominis and Patches Damon Holt Gallery

Karl Struss: Pictorialist Photographer
December 5-March 2, Works on Paper Gallery
Works by the photographer and Oscar-winning cinematographer Karl Struss, who came to Hawai‘i in 1933 to work on Cecil B. DeMille’s Four Frightened People and took a series of nature images.

Botanical Photographs from the Collection of Cherye R. and James F. Pierce
March 28-June 8, John Dominis and Patches Damon Holt Gallery

The Surrealist Photograph
March 20-June 8, Works on Paper Gallery
Images by the Surrealist photographers Herbert Bayer, Vilem Kriz, Clarence John Laughlin, Aaron Siskind, and Edmund Teske.


This exhibition is sponsored by Diane Chen & Jan Koch-Weser, Gary & Linda Goldfein, Elizabeth & Richard Grossman, James & Priscilla Growney, Stephanie & Sherman Hee, Julia Ing, Violet Loo, Judith Dion Pyle & Wayne Pitluck, Thurston & Sharon Twigg-Smith, and David Wollenberg.

Funding is also provided by Linda Ahlers, Shirlee Albrecht, Margaret Armstrong, Deborah and Robert Atkinson, John Bullard, Chris Campbell & Peter Bihari, Paul & Ricki Cassiday, Shim Ching & Candice Naylor-Ching, Tim Choy, CKW Financial, Claire & John Falzarano, Carol Fox, Marc Goldman, Werner & Kathy Grebe, George & Cheryl Hetherington, Barbara Higgins, Ron & Sanne Higgins, Charles Holland, Claire & Larry Johnson, Lynne Johnson & Randy Moore, Stephan Jost & Will Scott, Jeanette Magoon, Ned Heindel Mobley, Robert & Linda Nichols, Maurice & Kathryn Nicholson, Sally Parker, Susan Shaindlin, Hans & Claire Strasser, Ruedi Thoeni & David Franklin, Al & Joyce Tomonari, Indru & Gulab Watumull, Sharon Weiner, Eric & Janet Weyenberg, Betty & Robert Ching Wo, Kathleen & Ronald Wo, Allison Wong & Thomas Daniel, and Linda & Michael Zoller.

Media sponsor:


Hospitality sponsors:
Waikiki Parc