SEE / / Protoshop: Photo Manipulation Before Photoshop
Sola Agustsson

Long before there was Photoshop, there was the desire to distort photographs: to make skies bluer and waists smaller, or even to shrink a woman to the size of a lamp or insert Stalin into a photo for propaganda’s sake. Whether for reasons of beauty, politics, or composition, humanity has always wanted to modify its reflection of reality.

Faking It at the Metropolitan Museum of Art features two hundred manually altered photos from the 1840s through the 1990s. Most of the images were doctored after the negatives were exposed, through photo montage techniques involving printing or painting over the photographs. The show is divided into seven sections based on the motivations for altering the images: Picture Perfect, Artifice in the Name of Art, Politics and Persuasion, Novelties and Amusements, Pictures in Print, and Protoshop.

Faking It is on view at the Metropolitan Museum of Art through January 27.