‘Ordinary Pictures’

Opening Saturday: Photography has had a strange couple of centuries. What started as a fluke of chemistry — strikingly realistic images of the world, conjured from the murk of light and reactive metals — soon rose to fine art status and then promptly got tossed through the 20th century as a conceptual rag doll: a gag prop for the avant-garde, a fashion piece for pop artists, a pipe bomb for the pictures generation. Now, in 2016, we have iPhones and the Internet. Images are cheap and everywhere. This month, the Walker turns its curatorial gaze to the most beaten dead horse of late era picture culture: the stock image. This generic visual commodity — think Getty images of sunsets, corporate board meetings, men coughing — is the launch point for a 45-artist exhibition that probes, mimics and critiques the so-called “modern image economy.” On preview, “Ordinary Pictures” feels more essay than art show. But theory types will have a blast mulling over the issues of our crushing technological condition. (Feb. 27-Oct. 9 with preview party 6-9 p.m. Fri. $9-$14 for gallery admission; $30 for preview party. Walker Art Center, 1750 Hennepin Av. S., Mpls. 612-375-7600, walkerart.org.)