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There was no app for image manipulation in the early days of photography, but photographers still found ways to change the picture. “Faking It: Manipulated Photography Before Photoshop” at the Metropolitan Museum of Art features about 200 doctored photographs from the 1840s through the early 1990s before the advantages of digital manipulation. The show is a wonderful reminder that the old way of altering photos was just as good at adding people, removing wrinkles, and dreaming up impossible scenes (for instance, Maurice Tabard’s 1930 surreal photograph of a room with a giant eye on the wall). Just like today, manual processes, such as photomontage, combination printing, overpainting, and retouching the negative, aimed to distort the truth behind the original snapshot taken by the camera. So, while we may lament that photography has lost its purity as we laugh at the posts on Photoshop Disasters, the truth is that photographers have always been able to trick the eye of the viewer.
Tuesdays-Sundays. Starts: Oct. 11. Continues through Jan. 27, 2012