American Civics

Illustration created by Shepard Fairey of Jim Marshall’s photograph of Cesar Chavez during Chavez’s 300-mile march to the California State Capitol in Sacramento

Famed street artist and graphic designer Shepard Fairey partnered with the estate of rock and roll photographer Jim Marshall to create fine art prints from Marshall’s original photographs. Each piece as crafted by Fairey is named after a civic-engagement topic and is based on an original photo taken by Marshall. The display includes five original photographs by Marshall and the five prints created by Fairey.

The exhibit is free.

Stanley Mosk Library and Courts Building
2nd Floor, Room 218
914 Capitol Mall
Sacramento, CA 94814

Monday – Friday
8 a.m. – 4 p.m.

A History of Portraiture Photography

Portraiture has a long history. Since there has been art, there have been representations of people in paintings and sculptures. Portraiture expanded as an art form with the invention of daguerreotype photography in 1839. Prior to this, it was too expensive for the average person to have a portrait of themselves or a loved one made. Because photographs were cheaper to make and required less time to produce, they quickly exploded in popularity, creating a huge demand for portraits.

As photographic technology and film development improved, new types of prints emerged. Daguerreotypes were soon replaced by albumen prints, which were even cheaper to make. Carte-de-visite, the most popular type of albumen print, enjoyed peak popularity from 1860 to 1890. They were small photographs mounted on 2.5 x 4 inch cards. These “visiting cards” became very popular for sharing portraits with others. Carte-de-visite prints were also used in advertising, and prints of famous people were enthusiastically traded and collected.

Portrait photography would undergo another change when cheap, inexpensive cameras were made available to the general public. Prior to 1900, photography was largely an activity for experts or wealthy hobbyists. Eastman Kodak introduced the Brownie camera in 1900, a mass-market model that sold for $1.00, the equivalent to $30 dollars today. The Brownie sold 10 million units in just 5 years, far exceeding the company’s expectations, and opened photography up to everyone. People could now take photos of friends, family members, and special events whenever they wanted. They could record and document their lives in pictures for themselves.

19th Century Portrait Studio

When photography studios were first established, people were photographed seated against a plain background and lighting was achieved using the natural light of a window or soft light reflected through mirrors.

As studio photography advanced, portraits became more elaborate, employing painted backdrops and various props to enhance the scene. Drapes, furniture, painted architectural forms and other indoor items were used to create a “drawing room” feel. New lighting techniques led to new ways to convey a subject’s personality through the use of shadow and light.

Exhibit is free.

California State Library Building
900 N Street
Mead B. Kibbey Second Floor Gallery
Sacramento, CA 95814

Hours: 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Images of the Industrial Revolution: From the Crystal Palace to the locomotive, 1851-1895

Pictured is a steam locomotive with 11 men and one teenage boy standing in front.

Explore the making of the modern world. On display will be illustrations and photographs of the technology, machinery, and culture of the nineteenth century. Exhibit runs through the end of July 2019.

The exhibit is free.

J. Paul Leonard Library – Sutro Library, Fifth Floor
San Francisco State University
1630 Holloway Avenue
San Francisco, CA 94132-4030

Monday – Friday
10 a.m. – 4 p.m.