The American Document: New Visions in Documentary Photography 1931-1976

21st Mar 2018 - 13th Apr 2018

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21 March – 14 April 2018

A new exhibition at Huxley-Parlour Gallery will present over forty significant works of 20th century American documentary photography including photographs by Walker Evans, Dorothea Lange, Robert Frank, Garry Winogrand and Diane Arbus. The works in the show chart the shift from socially engaged photography to a new definition of the document.

The tradition of American documentary photography in the 20th century is marked by two significant moments. The first was the socially and politically motivated “New Deal” photography of the 1930s and 1940s, and the second developed in the 1960s and 1970s when a group of photographers shifted away from the social documentary tradition. The exhibition will use both familiar, and lesser-known photographs, to explore these markedly different approaches to the genre and to the medium of photography, as well as the shift in use of the photograph as evidence.

The exhibition includes images created under the auspices of the Farm Security Administration (FSA), commissioned by the legendary Roy Stryker in the 1930s during the Great Depression. Photographers Dorothea Lange, Arthur Rothstein and Walker Evans amongst others, employed a graphic Modernist aesthetic, inherited from painting, to frame evidence of social and economic plight throughout the US. The work of the photographers of the FSA was used to manipulate public opinion in support of New Deal relief programmes with the aim of combatting rural poverty.

In the 1960s a new kind of documentary photography emerged, representing a radical break from tradition. Photographers including Lee Friedlander, Garry Winogrand and Diane Arbus, produced a new kind of documentary photography that focused on their own personal experiences within the urban environment. Their aim was to document quotidian, commonplace life with a new kind of vision, unique to the camera.

Collectively, the photographs in The American Document illustrate the shift not only in subject matter, from rural to urban, but stylistically within the US in this period. The closely cropped, structured aesthetic of the early work on show moves towards the more informal approach of “straight photography” to represent a seismic shift in the history of the documentary genre.

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Works

Freddie Kafer, Sacramento, California, May 1915

Lewis Hine

National Child Labour Committee, c. 1908

Lewis Hine

Migratory Cotton Picker, Eloy, Arizona, 1934

Dorothea Lange

Farmhouse, Westchester, New York, 1931

Walker Evans

Mended Stockings, San Francisco, 1934

Dorothea Lange

Unemployed Field Labourer, Coachella Valley, California, 1935

Dorothea Lange

Outdoor Advertising Sign Near Baton Rouge, Louisiana, 1935

Walker Evans

Dust Storm, Cimarron County, Oklahoma, 1936

Arthur Rothstein

Penny Picture Display, Savannah, 1936

Walker Evans

Allie Mae Burroughs, Alabama Tenant Farmer’s Wife, 1936

Walker Evans

Construction Worker, Louisiana, 1936

Walker Evans

Migrant Mother, Nipomo, California, 1936

Dorothea Lange

Arkansas Family, Seven Months in California, February 1936

Dorothea Lange

Migrant Vegetable Pickers Waiting in Line to be Paid Near Homestead, Florida, 1939

Marion Post Wolcott

Day Care Centre Hot Lunch, in New Community Centre, Osceola Labour Camp, FSA Homestead Project, Belle Glade, Florida, 1939

Marion Post Wolcott

From Texas Farmer to Migratory Worker, Kern County, California, November 1938

Dorothea Lange

Funeral Cortege, End of an Era in a Small Valley Town, California, 1938

Dorothea Lange

Untitled (Road), 1930s

Dorothea Lange

Untitled (Women Talking), 1930s

Walker Evans

Pahokee ‘Hotel’, Pahokee, Florida, 1941

Marion Post Wolcott

Birmingham, Alabama, c. 1940

Arthur Rothstein

Cafe, Beaufort, South Carolina, 1955

Robert Frank

Galax, Virginia, 1962

Lee Friedlander

Coney Island #1, New York, 1960

Diane Arbus

Cincinnati, Ohio, 1963

Lee Friedlander

Women Attending a Wednesday Matinee on Broadway, New York City, 1966

Garry Winogrand

Nanny Irma Felber with her Charge in Central Park, New York City, 1966

Garry Winogrand

Street Corner Evangelist ‘Rosie’ Preaching at Broadway & 45th Street, New York City, 1966

Garry Winogrand

New York City, 1963

Lee Friedlander

New York City, 1965

Lee Friedlander

New York City, 1963

Lee Friedlander

New York City, 1964

Lee Friedlander

A Family on Their Lawn One Sunday in Westchester, New York, 1968

Diane Arbus

Untitled (10), c. 1970

Diane Arbus

Untitled (14), c. 1970

Diane Arbus

Masked Woman in a Wheelchair, Pennsylvania, 1970

Diane Arbus

A House on a Hill, Hollywood, California, 1963

Diane Arbus

Kansas City, Missouri, 1965

Lee Friedlander

New York City, 1974

Lee Friedlander

Statue, New Jersey, 1971

Lee Friedlander

Cactus, Brooklyn Botanical Garden, 1973

Lee Friedlander

Knoxville, Tennessee, 1971

Lee Friedlander

New York City, 1966

Lee Friedlander

New York City, 1968

Lee Friedlander

Hillcrest, New York, 1970

Lee Friedlander

Butte, Montana, 1970

Lee Friedlander

San Diego, California, 1970

Lee Friedlander

Hollywood, California, 1970

Lee Friedlander

Chicago, 1972

Lee Friedlander

Untitled, 1976

Garry Winogrand

Gold Corner, New York City, 1974

Joel Meyerowitz

New York City, 1975

Joel Meyerowitz

New York City, 1976

Joel Meyerowitz