An exhibition detailing the sometimes amusing, sometimes sinister history of doctored photographs opened at the Metropolitan Museum of Art on Wednesday in New York.
The new exhibition called "Faking It: Manipulated Photography Before Photoshop" is an examination of the means and extent photographers and photo editors would go to alter images before the advent of digital technology.
Curator Mia Fineman says the reasons people manipulate photos haven't changed much in the 180 years the medium has been around, it's just much simpler to do it today.
Fineman says that after the invention of photography in 1839, the medium enjoyed a couple of decades relatively free from manipulation. But that began to change in the 1860's with the advent of 'spirit' images and other entertaining examples of trick photography.
The 20th Century saw this humorous slight of hand take a sinister turn. When the NKVD chief ran afoul of his boss, Soviet leader Joseph Stalin, the dictator had the chief 'purged', both literally and figuratively, removing his image from 1937 photo showing the two and other party officials together on the banks of a river.
Stalin also had a photo of him seated alongside the Bolshevik leader Vladimir Ilyich Lenin in 1922 altered to make him appear more 'photogenic' and powerful.
Lenin would die a few years later after a series of strokes, and Stalin would soon rise to power.
The exhibit also shows that the Nazi regime also manipulated photographs. In one photo showing a Nazi Leader Adolph Hitler at the Berlin villa of filmmaker Leni Riefenstahl. Before and after pictures show the removal of Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels, although the reason for the removal is not clear.
The doctoring or manipulation of images in the field of news is now considered strictly taboo, but it wasn't always so, says Fineman.
The exhibition features a selection of photos that ran in news periodicals, including an image of the Empire State Building with a dirigible docked to the top, an event that never happened, as well as a reenactment of the execution of Bruno Richard Hauptmann in 1936. After a highly publicized trial, Hauptmann was sentenced to death for the kidnapping and killing of the 20-month-old son of aviator Charles Lindberg. The photo was a staging of the event and it 'pasted in' the face of Hauptmann lifted from another photograph.
The exhibition also includes numerous examples of the doctoring of images for artistic reasons by artists such as Yves Klein, Wanda Wulz and many others.
'Faking It; Manipulated Photography Before Photoshop' runs through January 27th, 2013.