Harold Haliday Costain
(American, 1897–1994)
Crystal Fantasy, 1935
Chlorobromide print
Gift of Fernando Barnuevo
Bruce Museum Collection 2004.25.54
© Estate of Harold Haliday Costain

Harold Haliday Costain
(American, 1897-1994)
Stygian Flight
, 1934
Gelatin silver print
Gift of Fernando Barnuevo
Bruce Museum Collection 2004.25.56
© Estate of Harold Haliday Costain

Avant-Garde Persuasion: The Photographs of Harold Haliday Costain

March 2, 2013 - May 26, 2013

Avant-Garde Persuasion: The Photographs of Harold Haliday Costain is the first monographic exhibition devoted to the artist in recent years.

A local photographer who lived and worked in Scarsdale, New York, from 1923 until 1975, Costain was prolific throughout his successful career, winning numerous prestigious awards.

Drawing largely from the Bruce Museum collection and supplemented by works from the Keith de Lellis Gallery (New York, NY), the exhibition will showcase a selection of Costain’s industrial, architectural, and still-life photographs from the 1930s and 1940s.

Avant-Garde Persuasion will also highlight the unique role of the photograph at the very moment that Costain entered the profession in the 1920s, a time when photographic print advertising was in its golden age.  Replacing drawings, paintings, and prints, the photograph was ideally suited to the realm of advertising in its capacity to persuade vast audiences, while enabling artists to experiment with avant-garde techniques. 

Costain similarly employed a wide range of modernist strategies designed to promote American industries, products, and consumer lifestyles.  His photographs were often commissioned by and featured in a range of important publications such as Fortune, Life, Town & Country, House & Garden, and Country Life, among many others.   

Avant-Garde Persuasion is curated by the Museum’s 2012-2013 Zvi Grunberg Resident Intern, Margarita Karasoulas, and is accompanied by a digital catalogue and film series.  The exhibition provides a rare opportunity to see key examples of the photographer’s innovative and visually seductive work.

The exhibition is supported by the Charles M. and Deborah G. Royce Exhibition Fund.

Click here for the film series.

Click here for more images.

The New York Times reviews Avant-Garde Persuasion.

Hear more about the Costain exhibition from ItsRelevant.com, featuring curator Margarita Karasoulas.