Explore rediscovered photographs in Detroit Institute of Arts exhibition “Lost & Found: Photographs from the DIA’s Collection”

Untitled (Group of Portraits from Traveling Photo Studio)
Untitled (Group of Portraits from Traveling Photo Studio), Unknown Photographer, around 1950-60

Detroit—“Lost & Found: Photographs from the DIA’s Collection,” is a fascinating look at rediscovered photographs (referred to as “found” photography) rescued from attics, resale shops, online sources and the Detroit Institute of Arts’ (DIA) archives, on view at the DIA Aug. 26, 2018–March 3, 2019. The exhibition is free with museum admission, which is free for Wayne, Oakland and Macomb county residents.

“Lost and Found” includes photographs from the 1860s to the 1970s by unknown and amateur photographers that provide a glimpse into the city of Detroit, themes associated with the automobile and portraits that immortalize family members and everyday people from all walks of life. Included are images from carnival photo booths, family albums, snapshots and commercial portrait studios.

“Lost and Found” continues the DIA’s research and exhibitions that broaden understanding of photography as a cultural practice as well as uncovering those unknown or little-known photographers who found Detroit and the car as inspiration for their work. Director and CEO Salvador Salort-Pons noted, “This exhibition brings to life how photography reveals the relevance of our shared experiences through photographs of loved ones, friends, and family as well as the relationship of the camera to the car, the family road trip and the city of Detroit.”

“Lost and Found” includes a special section that looks at the city’s photographic practice of the past through recently re-discovered color images attributed to Allen Stross, who captured local haunts, people and bygone landmarks from Detroit in the 1960s and 70s. Black-and white snapshots of Detroit by James Pearson Duffy from 1974 to 1976 reveal the grittier side of the city, with storefronts, junk yards, mom and pop shops, handmade signs and local businesses. Duffy likely made these photographs while driving around town, probably taking them from his car.

Found photography inadvertently defines histories, preserves memories and reveals the presence of people, places and historical eras. For DIA visitors, these photographs are a connection to the past that may reference or be relevant to their own or shared life experiences. The DIA helps make these connections through the photographs as well as a custom audio mix of “found” music provided by Third Man Records.

The exhibition will also include social media engagement. The DIA will ask the public to submit photographs from their personal archives through an #LostAndFoundatDIA Instagram campaign. Stay tuned for more information.

This exhibition was organized by the Detroit Institute of Arts. The DIA would like to acknowledge the role of collectors whose insight and generosity led to the realization of this exhibition. Their continued interest in the changing nature and reception of the photographic image as well as the growth of the collection on subjects associated with Detroit provided inspiration for “Lost and Found.” The DIA especially thanks The Peter J. Cohen Collection, the estate of James Pearson Duffy, Brad and Ellen Iverson, the estate of Bill and Doris Rauhauser and Third Man Records.

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