Art and Photography surveys a rich and important history, from the 1960s to the 21st century. Arranged thematically, it presents works by the most significant international artists who have explored and extended the boundaries of photography. This influential body of work by over 160 artists over four decades is contextualised in the “Documents” section by original artist’s statements and interviews, as well as lucid reflections on photography by major thinkers of our era such as Roland Barthes and Jean Baudrillard. Today photography is art’s pre-eminent medium. Photography pervades our visual culture. It has become what painting was in previous centuries: a universal language. Today’s photographers are internationally admired as “the painters of modern life”. Yet it took the whole of the 20th century for photography to reach this status. On its invention, the photograph was derided as a purely mechanical, “artless” medium which could never be considered among the fine arts. As the 20th century unfolded, Modernist movements experimented with the photograph and expanded its limits, yet still the art establishment held out. Only recently have the majority of art museums begun acquiring works of photography. In 1976, when the Museum of Modern Art, New York – one of the first institutions to collect photographs – staged a retrospective of the American colour photographer William Eggleston, this was a groundbreaking event: it was the first time colour photography had been exhibited, as art, in a major museum. This moment in the 1970s marked a dramatic sea change, but the tides had begun to turn in the early 1960s, when artists such as Andy Warhol, Ed Ruscha and Gerhard Richter used the everyday, mass-produced quality of the snapshot as a basis for their work. From this early adoption of photography for its “artless” qualities, artists have explored photography extensively ever since, ranging from Richard Prince and Cindy Sherman’s reflections on the visual messages of film and advertising, to the richly layered, ‘painterly’ genres of portraiture, landscape and still life in the work of Nan Goldin, Andreas Gursky, Roni Horn, Wolfgang Tillmans, Jeff Wall and others who have brought photography full circle, to the roles that painting fulfilled in past centuries.