Free FOTOFOCUS photography exhibit opens at Cincinnati Museum Center

The Photographic Legacy of Paul Briol, 1909-1955 on display Oct. 1, 2012- Jan. 6, 2013

Cincinnati Museum Center (CMC) is joining FOTOFOCUS , a biennial, month-long celebration of historical and contemporary photography and lens-based art, with an exhibit of renowned Cincinnati photographer, Paul Briol.

Born in Massachusetts in 1889, Paul Briol came to Cincinnati in 1909, working as a journalist and photographer until 1920. During the 1920s he managed The Book Shelf, an unorthodox bookstore that soon attracted Cincinnati’s intellectual elite. After closing The Book Shelf in 1930, Briol opened and operated a photographic studio from 1932 until 1955, when a serious automobile accident forced him to close the business. Briol died in New York City in 1969.

The work of Paul Briol comprises an unmatched historical and aesthetic record of Cincinnati. His photographs are valuable not only as a record of what once existed, but also how places familiar to Cincinnatians today appeared decades ago: a bustling Union Terminal, stevedores working on Ohio River steamboats and old Coney Island. A meticulous technician, Briol produced images almost exclusively working with a tripod-mounted 8 x 10-inch-view camera, and often spent hours printing a single photograph to his exact specifications. The finished prints present an extraordinary degree of detail, mastery of light and shadow and a dramatic sense of composition that characterizes his photographs of 20th century Cincinnati.

In addition to hosting the exhibit, CMC’s Cincinnati History Library and Archives has partnered with FOTOFOCUS and 3CDC’s Fountain Square LED video board to produce Cincinnati Yesterday and Today , a public art project showcasing how the city has changed as seen through the eyes of photographers from the 1930s through today. Using a split-screen format, local curator Kip Eagen has developed a program featuring selections of iconic Cincinnati images taken by Paul Briol from the 1930s through the 1950s, and paired them with images of the same location produced by contemporary local photographers. Briol’s photographs are selections from the collection of the Cincinnati History Library and Archives. Contemporary Cincinnati photographers include Helen Adams, Lisa Britton, Anita Douthat, Cal Kowal, Mark Patsfall, Brad Austin Smith, Bryn Weller and Jay Yocis, among others. There will be random daily screenings of Cincinnati Yesterday and Today at the Fountain Square LED video board during the month of October.

While FOTOFOCUS runs only during the month of October, The Photographic Legacy of Paul Briol, 1909-1955 will remain open until Jan. 6, 2013. This free exhibit is on display in CMC’s Culture Gallery. For more information, visit or call (513) 287-7001.

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