Amazing Manipulated Photographs from a Pre-Photoshop World

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“Photoshopped!” The very word can send an analog photographer’s snobbery and/or justified pride into overload. Photoshop? How dare they! But while we’re cringing at HDR skylines, erased freckles, and contrast tweaks that are all too common today, photographers have been manipulating images since way before the digital age. And so, The Metropolitan Museum of Art presents Faking It: Manipulated Photography Before Photoshop .

Featuring over 200 photographs created between the 1840s and the 1990s, the show offers up a bevy of curiosities and ah-ha moments. Explore multiple exposures, combination printing, photomontage, overpainting, and retouching of negatives. See Stalin’s purged enemies disappear from news photos right before your eyes! Check out Weegee’s contorted and twisted portraits of important men! See monochrome scenes dotted with pigment to imitate life! Fairies! Catwomen! Dali-like landscapes! Take a look in our slideshow preview. Be amazed.

Grete Stern (Argentinian, born Germany, 1904-1999), Sueño No. 1: Articulos eléctricos para el hogar, Dream No. 1: Electrical Appliances for the Home, 1948. Gelatin silver printhe Metropolitan Museum of Art, Twentieth-Century Photography Fund, 2012 (2012.10). Courtesy of Galería Jorge Mara – La Ruche, Buenos Aires

Unidentified German artist, A Powerful Collision, 1914. Gelatin silver print, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Twentieth-century Photography Fund, 2010, 2010.296. Photo courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Henry Peach Robinson (English, 1830–1901), Fading Away, 1858. Albumen silver print from glass negatives, The Royal Photographic Society Collection at the National Media Museum, Bradford, United Kingdom. Photo courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Unidentified Russian artist, Lenin and Stalin in Gorki in 1922, 1949. Gelatin silver print with applied media, Collection of Ryna and David Alexander. Photo courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Unidentified American artist, Man on Rooftop with Eleven Men in Formation on His Shoulders, ca. 1930. Gelatin silver print, Collection of George Eastman House, International Museum of Photography and Film, Rochester. Photo courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Maurice Guibert (French, 1856–1913), Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec as Artist and Model, ca. 1900. Gelatin silver print, Philadelphia Museum of Art: Gift of Henry P. McIlhenny, 1982. Photo courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum of Art

George Washington Wilson (Scottish, 1823–1893), Aberdeen Portraits No. 1, 1857. Albumen silver print from glass negative, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation Fund, through Joyce and Robert Menschel, 2011, 2011.424. Photo courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Unidentified French artist, Published by Allain de Torbéchet et Cie., Man Juggling His Own Head, ca. 1880. Albumen silver print from glass negative. Collection of Christophe Goeury. Photo courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Maurice Tabard (French, 1897–1984), Room with Eye, 1930. Gelatin silver print, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Elisha Whittelsey Collection, The Elisha Whittelsey Fund, 1962 (62.576.4). Photo courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum of Art

F. Holland Day (American, 1864–1933), The Vision (Orpheus Scene), 1907. Platinum print, The Royal Photographic Society Collection at the National Media Museum, Bradford, United Kingdom. Photo courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Unidentified American artist, Dirigible Docked on Empire State Building, New York, 1930. Gelatin silver print, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Twentieth-Century Photography Fund, 2011 (2011.189)

Gustave Le Gray (French, 1820–1884), Cloud Study, Light-Dark, 1856-57. Albumen silver print from glass negatives, Estate of Maurice Sendak. Photo courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Unidentified American artist, Two-Headed Man, ca. 1855. Daguerreotype, The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, Missouri (Gift of Hallmark Cards, Inc.), 2005.27.373

William Henry Jackson (American, 1843–1942), Unidentified artist at Detroit Publishing Company, Colorado Springs, Colorado, ca. 1913. Collage of gelatin silver prints with applied media, Amon Carter Museum of American Art, Fort Worth, Texas