March 4, 2022 – December 16, 2022
Briscoe Center for American History, Austin, Texas
The Dolph Briscoe Center for American History at the University of Texas at Austin is pleased to announce the forthcoming exhibit Present/Past: The Robert Polidori Photographic Archive.
Robert Polidori is one of the world’s most acclaimed photographers of human habitats and environments. He is best known for his detailed, large-format color film photographs that explore the built world, capturing layers of history in extraordinary detail. Thanks to the generosity of a Chicago-area family, Robert Polidori’s photographic print archive was donated to the Briscoe Center in 2021. Consisting of more than 85,000 archive prints, the collection is valued at more than $30 million—one of the largest gifts to the university’s “What Starts Here” capital campaign to date.
With selections from Polidori’s comprehensive photographic archive, part of the Briscoe Center’s vast photography collections, Present/Past takes viewers beyond the widely acknowledged aesthetic value of his images. The exhibit demonstrates the evidentiary significance of his work, which captures the impact of humanity and the passage of time.
The large-format prints on display include Polidori’s significant projects: the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and subsequent flooding in New Orleans, the Château de Versailles, Havana, and Chernobyl, as well as his Metropolis series, which documents population and urban growth.
In addition to large-format prints, the exhibit includes materials from the full breadth of the Polidori Archive. Just as Polidori’s work documents layers of change over time, the exhibit examines the complex process behind the photographer’s final works. From his initial Polaroids and annotated images to proofs and final prints, Present/Past reveals the layers of evidence contained in the collection as a whole.