The American Way of Life, 1937
Modernist Photography 1910–1950 is an exhibition of photographic icons and discoveries now showing at Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts, drawn from its holdings and the local Lane Collection. The great thing about its images is that they do a perfect job of marrying the compositional play of great modernist abstraction, guaranteed to grab the eye, with subjects that deserve to be eyeballed.
Bourke-White’s image of a bread line is still as compelling as ever. It reminds us that, almost 75 years on, we are still–or once again–facing a huge gap between our bouncy American dreams and a harsh reality that often has little contact with them. The painful side of this photo: It recalls how little progress we can seem to have made, and how there’s even been backsliding in our concern for economic justice and equality. The upside: In the depths of the Great Depression, it must have seemed that the country was suffering an inexorable slide. It wasn’t.
Plus, see Blake Gopnik's Daily Pic for more on the Boston show.
Margaret Bourke White (American, 1904–1971)
Photograph, gelatin silver print
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Polaroid Foundation Purchase Fund
© Estate of Margaret Bourke White/ Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY Photograph
© Museum of Fine Arts, Boston