Pictures have traditionally been put into service to market ideas and products. But pictures themselves have increasingly been products marketed to an expanding consumer base.
The Prints and Photographs Division's collections support the study of image-making as a business—how image makers created pictures directly for consumption by the public.
The business of making pictures is not easily separated from the creation of pictures for art's sake, however. The products of commercial photo studios and print publishers highlight the marriage of aesthetics and commerce. Although the division has historically made a distinction between prints and photographs mass-produced for sale to a broad market and those produced for the fine art market, the distinctions do not always hold up in practice. Both photographs and prints have traditionally provided a relatively inexpensive, democratic means of bringing art to the masses; both have also earned reputations as special forms of aesthetic expression, savored by the elite.
The following "Business & Art" collections are highlighted in these sections of the guide: