For far more time than we'd like to admit, we spent our days commuting to and from the stressful center of neon lights and fanny packs that is Times Square. During this period, we were always immensely grateful for the existence of the International Center of Photography, which always provided us with a blissful lunch hour retreat, whether from the stress of the teeming masses outside or just from excel projects gone maddeningly awry.

07_2005_dagart.jpgNow that we're blessedly freed from the area, we still find ourselves periodically drawn back to ICP, despite our futile vows to never set foot on 42nd St again. And we have to say, it's always worth the trip. Currently we would recommend that anyone working in the area or brave enough to venue forth in the heat check out ICP's new exhibit on the daguerreotypes of Albert Southworth and Josiah Hawes.

Something about daguerreotypes just makes them incredibly irresistible. Maybe it's their unique materiality, or the feeling of experimentation that can often be seen within them, or, more simply, maybe just the fact that they are often truly beautiful objects. Regardless, this exhibit is worth checking out.

Southworth and Hawes, who were business partners in Boston from 1843 to 1863, specialized in portraiture for high society. Their clients ranged from political leaders to renowned artists, including Louisa May Alcott, Dorothea Dix, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Edward Everett, William Lloyd Garrison, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sam Houston, Jenny Lind, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Horace Mann, George Peabody, William H. Prescott, Harriet Beecher Stowe, and Charles Sumner. Their highly tonal and luminous images of these personages will stick with you, but most powerful of all are the postmortem portraits made to commemorate loved ones. Brought all together in this exhibit, their work offers an illuminating glimpse into the very beginnings of photographic portraiture and the studio process.

The exhibit, which is accompanied by a catalog, will be on view at ICP through September 4th. The museum is also showing two other exhibits during this period, The Open Book: A History of the Photographic Book from 1878 to the Present and Forget Me Not: Photography and Remembrance.