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Current Obsession: the Malcolmson Collection of historical photographs gets its first hometown public exhibition

Current Obsession: Deep Focus

Most of the time, the more than 200 rare photographs owned by husband-and-wife collectors Harry and Ann Malcolmson are kept out of sight. Harry, a securities lawyer and a consultant to the World Bank, and Ann, a former social worker and a founding member of Toronto Friends of the Visual Arts, take no chances with their treasures: though the walls of the couple’s Benvenuto Place apartment are filled with iconic prints from almost every period in photographic history, the images are usually hidden behind black plastic covers to protect them from sunlight.

In their four decades of collecting, the Malcolmsons have hewed to no single aesthetic or artistic school—160-year-old photos by Maxime Du Camp hang alongside avant-garde 20th-century images by Man Ray and a smattering of contemporary work. To see all of these pictures together is to be taken through an idiosyncratic history of the medium, with no room for photos that are dull or merely journalistic. This is the exhibition’s first major showing in Toronto, so we asked the Malcolmsons to give us a private viewing of some of their favourite pieces.

ART
Photography Collected Us: The Malcolmson Collection
Jan. 24 to March 10
University of Toronto Art Centre

(Interviews by Katherine Ashenburg. Portrait of Malcolmsons by Christopher Wahl. Reproductions courtesy of the Malcolmsons)