Fred Kruger – Intimate Landscapes

The Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia, 4 February to 27 May 2012 

Fred Kruger, 'Wreck of the ship George Roper, Point Lonsdale (1883)' , albumen silver photograph 18.4 x 27.2 cm (image) National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne Gift of Mrs Beryl M. Curl, 1979

On 4 February the National Gallery of Victoria will open Fred Kruger: Intimate Landscapes, the first comprehensive survey of Fred Kruger’s (1831–88) photographs ever to be mounted. The exhibition features features over 100 works drawn predominantly from the NGV Collection and incorporates loans from Museum Victoria, the State Library of Victoria and private collections.

Fred Kruger was one of the leading landscape photographers of the 19th century in Australia, working extensively throughout Victoria. Kruger migrated from Germany in 1860 and a few years later opened a photographic studio in Carlton, Melbourne before moving his thriving practice to Geelong.

Many of the photographs in this exhibition depict iconic locations that will be familiar to Victorians, providing visitors with a glimpse back more than 130 years to scenes at the You Yangs, the Esplanade at Queenscliff and Point Lonsdale among others.

This exhibition also showcases Kruger’s command of photographic language, providing a fascinating insight into the political and social life of Victoria in the 1800s. Kruger’s photographs show how European settlers altered the environment through farming and other developments while also depicting their growing appreciation of the picturesque qualities of the bush.

Kruger made the most of the photographic opportunities presented to him. From the late 1860s he drove a horse and cart around Victoria taking both scenic views and private commissions. His most political commission was to record life at the Aboriginal settlement of Coranderrk Station at the request of the Board for the Protection of Aborigines.

Working at a time of rebellion at the station, Kruger’s images highlighted colonial race relations and still have importance today. These photographs were also widely circulated at the time, being reproduced in illustrated newspapers, included in international exhibitions and sold as part of albums.

Fred Kruger: Intimate Landscapes is on display at The Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia from 4 February to 27 May 2012. Open 10–5pm, Tue–Sun. Entry is free. Exhibition website.

Senior Curator of Photography, Isobel Crombie, will give an exhibition introduction on Thursday 9th February at 12:30pm, free entry – more information on the NGV website.

Indigenous Project Officer, Brian McKinnon, will give a talk on the Indigenous content in the exhibition on Thursday 16th February at 2:00pm, free entry –  more information on NGV website

NB. This exhibition may contain the names or images of people who are now deceased. Some Indigenous communities may be distressed by seeing the name, or image of a community member who has passed away.