Zhang Huan, To Raise the Water Level in a Fish Pond (Close Up), 1997, dye coupler print, 83 x 117 cm approx. Purchased 2011. National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa. Courtesy Zhang Huan Studio. Photo: NGC

The Extended Moment: Fifty Years of Collecting Photographs [Audain Art Museum]

Explore photographic synergies in this thought-provoking exhibition showcasing photographs collected by the National Gallery of Canada over the past fifty years.

Once viewed as a documentary medium rather than fine art, photography comes into its own in this dazzling new exhibition of photography’s evolution over nearly 180 years.

Featuring 175 photographs and related images from the outstanding collection of the Canadian Photography Institute of the National Gallery of Canada, The Extended Moment juxtaposes historical photographs with recent works, creating thought-provoking visual synergies.

From processes as diverse as daguerreotype to digital, tintypes to inkjet prints, and monochrome to highly saturated colour, The Extended Moment looks at photography as an ever-evolving medium. Through works by artists such as Julia Margaret Cameron, Weegee, Ed Burtynsky, Lynne Cohen, and Spring Hurlbut, the exhibition demonstrates photography’s ability to reflect the zeitgeist of its time, while also recording a photographer’s seen and unseen worlds.

The Extended Moment: Fifty Years of Collecting Photographs has been organized by the National Gallery of Canada.


Saturday, February 8, 2020 Monday, May 25, 2020


Audain Art Museum
4350 Blackcomb Way
Whistler, BC V8E 1N3

On Tour



Photography through the camera is an instrument of detection. We photograph not only what we know, but also what we do not know.

— Lisette Model


Photography takes an instant out of time, altering life by holding it still.

— Dorothea Lange

Discover facts about photography and The Extended Moment exhibition

In the early days of photography, formal portraiture was wildly popular. People posed for achingly long exposures with their necks fixed in a sort of vise, surrounded by objects that said something about them. Similar to today’s selfies, these portraits helped define the sitter. The Extended Moment features several such portraits, including a winsome hand-coloured daguerreotype of a young woman, and an 1845 photograph of three women dressed as men.

John Benjamin Dancer, Self‑portrait with Scientific Apparatus ?, c. 1853, daguerreotype, right plate: 7.7 x 6.8 cm; left plate: 7.6 x 6.7 cm; image: 6.9 x 5.9 cm each. National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa. Gift of Phyllis Lambert, Montreal, 1988. Photo: NGC

Many of today’s photographic artists alter their images digitally not only for effect, but to make a cogent comment. In the section on Advertising, The Extended Moment features a work by Robin Collyer, in which he has removed billboard information pixel by pixel, “thus draining billboards and posters of their brand message but leaving no doubt as to their ubiquitous presence.”

Robin Collyer, Yonge Street, Willowdale, 1995, chromogenic print, 50.7 x 60.8 cm; image: 48.7 x 58.9 cm. CMCP Collection, National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa. © Robin Collyer. Photo: NGC

Some of the world’s most iconic photographs were created, not as art, but as commercial commissions. For example, famous images by American photographers Dorothea Lange and Walker Evans — both of whom are included in The Extended Moment — were made for the U.S. government’s Farm Security Administration during the Great Depression. Similarly, Margaret Watkins’ Domestic Symphony and André Kertész’s Fork, Paris — also in the exhibition — were produced for advertising.

André Kertész, Fork, Paris, 1928, gelatin silver print, 8.5 x 10.6 cm; image: 7.5 x 9.2 cm. National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa. © RMN Grand Palais – Gestion droit d’auteur. Photo: NGC

Just as it is today, 19th-century photography was a form of armchair travel. Lugging around heavy large-format cameras — along with all the paraphernalia required to carry and develop glass plates — early photographers brought home exotic images of temples, pyramids and even a Hudson’s Bay Company fort, all of which are on view in The Extended Moment.

Humphrey Lloyd Hime, Hon. Hudson’s Bay Company Officers’ Quarters: Lower or Stone Fort, c. September – October 1858, printed after January 1859, salted paper print, 13.7 x 17 cm; image: 13.7 x 17 cm. National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa. Photo: NGC

In a world of 24/7 news, it may be hard to understand the shock of early journalistic photography. From Robert Capa’s well-known image of a soldier being shot during the Spanish Civil War to an anonymous news photo of a dead safecracker, The Extended Moment demonstrates the power of photographic journalism from its inception to the present day.

Robert Capa, Spain, 5 September 1936, gelatin silver print, 22.6 x 33.5 cm. National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa. © Robert Capa, Courtesy International Center of Photography/Magnum Photos. Photo: NGC

There is one thing the photograph must contain, the humanity of the moment.

— Robert Frank

Related Content

Featured Videos

The Evolution of a Collection: The Extended Moment

Ann Thomas, Interim Chief Curator of the National Gallery of Canada, recalls the major steps that led to the creation of the Canadian Photography Institute’s collection.

The Beginnings: The Extended Moment

The Gallery’s collection of photographs began 50 years ago with an idea and a vision shared by James Borcoman and then-director Jean Sutherland Boggs. Learn more in this video.

The Extended Moment: The First Gift

How did the first gift of the history of the Canadian Photography Institute arrive? In a box. Discover what was inside in this short video.

Retrace the evolution of the Gallery’s photography collection