Hidden Troubles

Lewis Hine at the International Center of Photography is the Daily Pic by Blake Gopnik

Lewis Hine saw beauty in the oppressed kids he shot.

"Paris Gamin" was shot in about 1918 by Lewis Hine, and is in the fabulous survey of his work that's on view for only a few more days at the International Center of Photography. Hine, of course, is famous for his images of working people – mostly children – stuck in an unjust and cruel system. His photos of kids, especially, are almost unfailingly touching and sensitive, conveying the sense (true or false) that the photographer genuinely felt for them. The only problem is that this leads Hine to make his subjects look luminous and gorgeous – with this French urchin as a prime example. They might as well have been shot by a fashion photog. And, in the presence of so much beauty and elegance, it's hard to feel that there's much wrong with the world. Hines's pictures don't make us feel miserable enough, for the misery of their subjects to impinge fully on us. There's too much love in them.

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