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 works commissioned by the Farm Security Administration (FSA) 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. In the 1960s 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 not reform, but the documentation quotidian, commonplace life with a new kind of vision, unique to the camera.