Since 1995, Haverford College has augmented its already substantial photography holdings with financial help from alumni Michael Fogel and his son Rafael, acquiring 52 works by 41 photographers that enhance the collection's core and push it in new directions. Begun in 1870, it contains some 5,000 works by more than 500 photographers; now 40 of those works can be seen in "The Fogel Collection: A Collection Within a Collection," in the college's Atrium Gallery.
It's a diverse a group - classic works by household names (Elliott Erwitt, William Klein, William Wegman), lesser-known works by household names (Eadweard Muybridge), works that straddle photography and art (Dadaist Christian Schad, the first artist to use the photogram technique, and contemporary artist-photographer Carrie Mae Weems). Philadelphia photographers, photographers of color, 19th-century photographers, female photographers, Italian neorealist photographers, and Haverford graduates are also well represented.
There are far too many absorbing images to mention them all. A few: Judith Taylor's poignant October 19-20, an open diary with entries erased and energetically scribbled out, from a series made between 1999 and 2007; Crisanto Cabrera's Tailor (Tailor Taking a Young Woman's Measurements) from 1930, showing the woman in question looking coyly at the photographer while the tailor is completely engaged in his tape measure; Roberto Spampinato's photographs of a couple dancing, the woman's legs improbably airborne, and of a bare-chested flame-eater surrounded by a crowd; Christine Kathryn Welch's 2001 color photograph of a new housing development near Phoenixville that is so new, so still, so eerily uninhabited-looking it's creepy, and that famously disturbing 1955 William Klein image, Gun 2, N.Y. (purchased through the Fogel Fund and William E. Williams) of a woman holding a pistol to a boy's head as he and the children around him smile broadly.
The 2013 U.S. Open at the Merion Golf Club spawned a few local shows devoted to the sport, none as quirky and conscientiously vintage as "Harold Edgerton and Walker Evans: Photographs of Golf," in Haverford's Alcove Gallery. Apparently these titans of photography were golfers too, and their enthusiasm carries over into their images.
Edgerton, inventor of multiple-flash stroboscopic photography, is represented by modernist black-and-white studies of Bobby Jones and others swinging clubs and a bouncing golf ball. Evans, associated with straightforward images of vernacular architecture and regular people, shows here in a series of color photographs shot for Fortune Magazine in 1953 of players competing and in moments of repose on various U.S. courses. But, in keeping with his aesthetic, his golfers, even as photographed for tony Fortune, are the regular joes who just plainly loved the game and its environs.
Haverford College's Atrium Gallery, Marshall Fine Arts Center, and Alcove Gallery, Magill Library, 370 Lancaster Ave., 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Mondays through Fridays; fall hours (beginning Sept. 2) 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays through Fridays, 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. 610-896-1267 or www.haverford.edu/finearts. Through Oct. 6.
Liza Coviello has organized a mesmerizing little show for the collectively run project space Napoleon. "Gleaners//Informers" brings together paintings by Mauro Zamora, photographs by Brian Spies, and found-wood constructions by Heather Riley that speak of the fragility of the natural and man-made world.
Zamora's paintings look like decaying, damaged landscapes in which built infrastructures have been sucked into their own toxic chemical spills. Spies' black-and-white photos of bleak everyday scenes in northern Pennsylvania, accompanied by his writing, are pleas for environmental stewardship in the face of fracking. Riley's whimsical assemblages of bits of discarded wood, which inspired Coviello to organize this show, suggest the DIY-resourcefulness that might supersede human carelessness.
Napoleon, 319 N. 11th St., 2d floor, 2 to 6 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. www.napoleonnapoleon.com. Through Aug. 23.
Curious about Cuba's contemporary art scene? LGTripp Gallery's "Eyes to Cuba" would seem to offer a relatively accurate snapshot of present-day art production there, given that the show's eight artists are under 35 and attended Cuban art schools. Art movements of the past still exert a strong influence, or, more likely, the contemporary art we know would be considered too licentious by the powers that be.
Most here are working in styles that bridge abstraction and symbolism, as in Hernan Rivas Pena's Dream Fluctuation, which suggests a side view of the interior of a floating sea creature. The show's sole realist, Jose Carlos Bajuelo, meditates on the loss of the family as an ideal in a painting of a house that appears to fade into the background, in the manner of a Luc Tuymans painting, and another of parents encircling a child that recalls Mexican muralists.
Even the most avant-garde, politically outspoken work takes its cues from the past, in this case from Surrealist films of the 1920s and '30s. In Juan Carlos Dominguez Diez's black-and-white video, a roll of toilet paper comes magically to life one night and explores a house by propelling itself through rooms and getting into various adventures, tragically only to return to its original utilitarian purpose.
LGTripp Gallery, 47 N. 2d St., 12 to 5 p.m. Wednesdays, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays. 215-923-3110 or www.lgtrippgallery.com. Through Saturday.
"Art" by Edward J. Sozanski and "Galleries" by Edith Newhall appear in alternate weeks.