Modernist Photography at Boston Museum of Fine Arts (Photos)

See modernist photography by Alfred Stieglitz, Ansel Adams, and more on view now in Boston.

Car Hops, Early Drive in Restaurant, Hollywood, California, 1935

John Gutmann (American, 1905–1998) 

Photograph, gelatin silver print

Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

Ellen Kelleran Gardner Picture Fund Collection Center for Creative Photography, University of Arizona

© 1998 Arizona Board of Regents Photograph

© Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

Nude, 1935

Edward Weston (American, 1886–1958)

Photograph, gelatin silver print

The Lane Collection.

Courtesy, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

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

The Artist Lives Dangerously, San Francisco, 1938

John Gutmann (American, 1905–1998)

Photograph, gelatin silver print

Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Sophie M. Friedman Fund

Collection Center for Creative Photography, University of Arizona

© 1998 Arizona Board of Regents Photograph

© Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

Comics, New York City, circa 1949

Morris Engel (American, 1918–2005) 

Photograph, gelatin silver print

Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Abbott Lawrence Fund

© Morris Engel Photograph

© Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

Sixteen Year Old Boy Who Strangled a Four Year Old Child To Death, 1944

Weegee (Arthur H. Fellig) (American (born in Poland), 1899–1968) 

Photograph, gelatin silver print

Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Sophie M. Friedman Fund

© Weegee/International Center of Photography/Getty Images Photograph

© Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

Arrival of the Imperator, 1912

Karl Struss (American, 1886–1981)

Photograph, platinum print

Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Gift of Richard Germann

© 1983 Amon Carter Museum, Fort Worth, Texas Photograph

© Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

Margaret Treadwell, 1921

Alfred Stieglitz (American, 1864–1946) 

Photograph, palladium print

Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Gift of Alfred Stieglitz

© Museum of Fine Arts, Boston Photograph

© Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

Rose and Driftwood, San Francisco, Circa 1932

Ansel Adams (American, 1902–1984) 

Photograph, gelatin silver print

The Lane Collection.

Courtesy, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

Arizona Landscape, 1943

Frederick Sommer (American, 1905–1999) 

Photograph, gelatin silver print

Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. The Lane Collection.

© Frederick and Frances Sommer Foundation Photograph

© Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

Saguaros 3, 1949

Aaron Siskind (American, 1903–1991) 

Photograph, gelatin silver print

Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Gift of Robert Menschel Photograph

© Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

Dunes, Oceano, 1936

Edward Weston (American, 1886–1958) 

Photograph, gelatin silver print

The Lane Collection.

Courtesy, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

Driftwood, Dark Roots, Georgetown, Maine, 1928

Paul Strand (American, 1890–1976)

Photograph, platinum print

Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Sophie M. Friedman Fund

© Aperture Foundation, Inc, Paul Strand Archive Photograph

© Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

Turning Torso

Alexander Archipenko (Russian, 1887–1964)

Cast by: Modern Art Foundry

American, 1921; cast circa 1960

Metal; bronze

Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. John H. and Ernestine A. Payne Fund

© 2011 Estate of Alexander Archipenko / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Photograph© Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

Ore Into Iron, 1953

Charles Sheeler (American, 1883–1965)

Oil on canvas

Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Gift of William H. and Saundra B. Lane and Henry H. and Zoe Oliver Sherman Fund

Photograph © Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

Pulverizer Building, Ford Plant, 1927

Charles Sheeler (American, 1883–1965)

Photograph, gelatin silver print

The Lane Collection.

Courtesy, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

Brooklyn and Manhattan Bridges, 1911

Karl Struss (American, 1886–1981)

Photograph, platinum print

Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Gift of Richard Germann

© 1983 Amon Carter Museum, Fort Worth, Texas

Photograph © Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

Rooftops, Circa 1915–16

Morton Schamberg (American, 1881–1918)

Photograph, gelatin silver print

Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Gift of Saundra B. Lane in honor of Karen E.

Haas Photograph © Museum of Fine Arts, Boston