National Gallery of Art opens A World of Bonds: Frederick Sommer’s Photography and Friendships

The National Gallery of Art presents A World of Bonds: Frederick Sommer’s Photography and Friendships, an exhibition on view in the East Building from June 16 to August 4, 2013.

Frederick Sommer (1905–1999) explored an unusually broad array of subjects ranging from disorienting landscapes and macabre aspects of the natural world to surreal arrangements of found objects and virtual abstractions. Following his conviction that “the world is not a world of cleavages at all, / the world is a world of bonds,” the exhibition traces the formal and thematic continuities within Sommer’s heterogeneous oeuvre and puts it in dialogue with the work of artist-friends who helped shape his vision. Drawn largely from the Gallery’s collection, which includes significant works gifted by the artist himself in 1995, this one-room exhibition presents twenty-seven photographs, prints, collages, and drawings. It not only showcases the beauty and diversity of Sommer’s striking images but also places them in the context of his formative friendships with Edward Weston, Max Ernst, Man Ray, Charles Sheeler, and Aaron Siskind. “All rare things should be lent away / and I have borrowed very freely,” Sommer wrote of his art. Taking that sentiment to heart, this exhibition offers a glimpse into the ways in which Sommer shared ideas with his contemporaries as he created a body of work uniquely his own.