Brought to light: photography and the invisible, 1840-1900

Front Cover
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, 2008 - Photography - 215 pages
2 Reviews

Brought to Light invites readers to step back to a time when photography, X-rays, and movies were new, when forays into the world beneath the skin or the realm beyond our everyday vision captivated scientists and the public alike. In this book, accounts of scientific experimentation blend with stories of showmanship to reveal how developments in 19th-century technology could enlighten as well as frighten and amaze. Through a series of 200 vintage images—produced by photographers, scientists, and amateur inventors—this book ultimately traces the rise of popular science.


The images demonstrate early experiments with microscopes, telescopes, electricity and magnetism, motion studies, X-rays and radiation, and spirit photography. We learn how these pictures circulated among the public, whether through the press, world’s fairs, or theaters. What started out as scientific progress, however, often took on the trappings of magic and superstition, as photography was enlisted to offer visual evidence of clairvoyance, spirits, and other occult influences.


With beautifully reproduced plates and engaging narratives, this book embodies the aesthetic pleasures and excitement of the tale it tells.

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Brought to light: photography and the invisible, 1840-1900

User Review  - Not Available - Book Verdict

This nicely illustrated and beautifully presented exhibition catalog features reproductions of nearly 200 vintage photographic images made by 19th-century scientists, amateur inventors, and ... Read full review

Review: Brought to Light: Photography and the Invisible, 1840-1900

User Review  - Goodreads

this incredible exhibit was one that you couldn't go to only once and the book is as excellent of a documentation one can get without having an opportunity to to experience the breathtaking beauty of the show in person. Read full review

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About the author (2008)

Corey Keller is associate curator of photography at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. Jennifer Tucker is associate professor of History at Wesleyan University. Tom Gunning is professor of Art History at the University of Chicago.

Maren Gröning is Curator of the Photographic Collection at the Albertina Museum, Vienna.