“Street Seen” at Milwaukee Art Museum

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Exploring a pivotal moment in American photographic history, “Street Seen: The Psychological Gesture in American Photography, 1940-1959” will be on exhibit at the Milwaukee Art Museum from January 30 through April 25, 2010. During a time when global media was at its greenest and photography was just starting to be acknowledged as contemporary art, six important photographers working in New York City at the time are being recognized for providing visible imagery of World War II.

The increased prominence of photography during this time made it possible to make the battlefield very real for the American people on the home front. These photographers’ radical aesthetic sensibility re-oriented viewer to America’s rapidly changing social landscape in the 1940s and 1950s. Some of the highlights include Lisette Model’s unflinching look at the cacophony of the urban environment, Louis Faurer’s empathic portraits of unglamorous eccentrics in Times Square, Ted Croner’s haunting night images, Saul Leiter’s painterly glimpses of elusive moments, William Klein’s graphic, confrontational style, and Robert Frank’s documentation of American ideals gone awry.

With over 100 graphically charged and emotionally engaging photographs, Street Seen provides in-depth insight into an era when the photographic medium and American society was at a crossroads. These influences include avant-garde and popular culture, personal and commercial photography, Depression-era social realism and Modernist abstract painting, wartime scarcity and postwar consumerism, and Allied internationalism and Cold War paranoia.

Street Seen will be curated by Associate Curator of Photographs at the Milwaukee Art Museum Lisa Hostetler. “Abstract Expressionism, film noir, and Beat poetry are all widely recognized aftershocks of World War II, but the significance of creative photography during the immediate postwar period has largely been ignored,” she notes. The impact of creative photography on American culture in the past and in the present can no longer be ignored.

Via: Milwaukee Art Museum

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