Photo Exhibition Highlights Post-War America

LONDON.- Pace London is presenting American Classics, an exhibition of key works by photographers who emerged in postwar America.

On a continuum between artistic vision and documentary investigation, these artists photographed North American people, culture and landscape.

Works by Diane Arbus, Richard Avedon, Harry Callahan, Robert Frank, Lee Friedlander, Irving Penn, Henry Wessel and Gary Winogrand are on view until 17 December 2016 at 6 Burlington Gardens.

The works in American Classics reveal insights into American culture and history that continue to resonate today. While Callahan, Frank, Friedlander, Wessel and Winogrand captured the natural and social American landscape, photographs from Frank’s famous series, The Americans (1955–56), reveal the diversity of life and culture in the United States with a disarmingly candid vision. Winogrand’s poignant, occasionally humorous images depict American lifestyle mostly in urban parks and zoos.

Portraits of individuals and groups by Arbus, Avedon, and Penn are incisive studies of both famous and marginalized Americans. Avedon’s portraits range from the artist June Leaf to actor Charlie Chaplin at the end of his time in the United States. Photographs such as Patriotic young man with a flag, N.Y.C. (1967) by Arbus and Peace Demonstration, Central Park, New York (1970) by Winogrand contrast modes of American political engagement during the Vietnam War.

Arbus represents a man waving a small American flag at a pro-war rally, whereas Winogrand captures the release of balloons in protest of the war. Penn’s iconic portraits of Georgia O’Keeffe, Jasper Johns, Robert Rauschenberg and 1960s counterculture members exemplify his uncanny ability to chronicle contemporary culture through the faces of our time.

With an eye for eclectic subjects and abstract composition, Callahan found unique perspectives on the natural world, cities, and suburbs. Detroit (1943) uses multiple exposures to convey both the dynamism and congestion of his hometown, a city built around the cars it produced. His work Chicago (c. 1949) presents the brick façade of a building, its windows creating graphic variety in an abstract, gridded composition.

Friedlander likewise focuses on the built landscape, revealing eccentric views of the environments along American roadsides. He also brought a self-reflective and sometimes slyly disconcerting sensibility to his street photography, as in New York City (1966), where the photographer’s presence is revealed by his shadow falling onto an unaware subject.

Photo above : Harry Callahan, Chicago, c. 1950. Gelatin silver print, 7-5/8" x 9-5/8" (19.4 cm x 24.4 cm) image 8" x 10" (20.3 cm x 25.4 cm) paper.