Exhibitions

Leviathans of the Sky: Photographs of Dirigibles from the National Gallery of Canada

21 Sep 2012 - 20 May 2013

Gallery C202b

In 2010 the National Gallery of Canada received a donation of over 1,500 photographs documenting aspects of aviation history from the early 20th century through to the 1970s. Consisting primarily of photographs created for or used by various press agencies, the collection chronicles the human fascination with flight through the evolution of aviation technology. It features an assortment of flying machines that includes dirigibles, various types of airplanes, ornithopters, gyrocopters, helicopters, jets, jetpacks and hovercraft as well as images of some of aviation’s pioneers including aviators, inventors, engineers and entrepreneurs.  

 
This exhibition presents approximately 40 visually engaging photographs of dirigibles from the collection. They range from images of the early airships being developed in Europe in the first decade of the 20th century to ones of immense zeppelins such as the Graf and Hindenburg that were making regular commercial flights across the Atlantic by the 1930s. Interestingly, though most of these photographs were documentary in intent, the scale and zoomorphic qualities of the dirigibles transform them into fantastic objects that dwarf their surroundings or hover over cityscapes and milling crowds. There is a touch of the surreal or uncanny to many of these images that is perhaps fitting for something as incredible as the dawn of human flight. 
 
Organized by the National Gallery of Canada.
 
Unknown.
<em>Astra Torres No. 1 Above Crowd, Issy-les-Moulineaux</em>, c. 1911-1912.
Gelatin silver print.
Gift of an anonymous donor, 2010.
National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa.
Photo © NGC.

Unknown. Astra Torres No. 1 Above Crowd, Issy-les-Moulineaux, c. 1911-1912. Gelatin silver print. Gift of an anonymous donor, 2010. National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa. Photo © NGC.