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Allentown Art Museum of the Lehigh ValleyAllentown, PA, United States

Lecture: Sleeping Beauties

Sunday, April 29, 2012, 2:00 PM - 4:00 PM
Allentown Art Museum of the Lehigh Valley, 31 North 5th Street, Allentown, PA 18101
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Description

Photographing a deceased person, dressed in their best clothes was a common practice in the 19th and early 20th centuries. These photographs are special mementos that hold deep meaning for mourners through visually “embalming” the dead. Although postmortem photographs make up the largest group of nineteenth-century American genre photographs, until recent years they were largely unseen and unknown.

Dr. Burns recognized the importance of this phenomenon when he bought his first postmortem photographs in 1976. Since that time he has amassed the most comprehensive collection of postmortem photography in the world and has curated several exhibits and published three books on the subject: the Sleeping Beauty series. Dr. Burns will talk about the practice of postmortem photography from the 19th century until today and share images from his collection. A book signing follows.

This lecture is in conjunction with the current special exhibition, "Gothic to Goth: Embracing the Dark Side," Janaury 29-April 29, 2012 in the Goodman Gallery. 'Gothic to Goth' offers an overview of the nineteenth-century cult of mourning in American art and fashions, and indicates how that trend translated into comtemporary Goth fashion - a genre now embraced by mainstream designers as well as the rock subculture of the twentieth century.

Photo of Kambriel taken by Tina Dolin courtesy of Kambriel.com. Featured design: Moiré Midnight Bustle ensemble.

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