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Hide & Seek: Picturing Childhood

September 26, 2009 - February 21, 2010

 

Exploring our fascination with childhood as captured throughout photography's history, Hide & Seek: Picture Childhood will feature 45 works by 42 photographers from The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art collection. Among the works are a stunning mid-19th-century portrait by Lewis Carroll, and contemporary color photographs by Jocelyn Lee, Sage Sohier and Julie Blackmon. They will be on view at the Museum for the first time. The exhibition runs September 26, 2009 through February 21, 2010 Admission is free.

"Childhood, as a phase of life distinct from adulthood, is a modern, Western construct," said Associate Curator of Photography April M. Watson, who co-curated the exhibition with Jane L. Aspinwall, Assistant Curator of Photography. "In many ways, it eludes easy definition. As society changes, the parameters defining childhood have become increasingly mutable. Our aim in selecting these works from the rich holdings in our collection is to explore the inherent complexity of the subject, which falls somewhere between innocence and knowing, nature and nurture, metaphor and fact."

Watson and Aspinwall have assembled a variety of works by some of the most recognized figures in the history of the medium, including Lewis Carroll, Gertrude Käsebier, Lewis Hine, Helen Levitt, Ralph Eugene Meatyard, Emmet Gowin and Sally Mann. "We wanted to explore a variety of concepts and themes, from romantic notions of innocence as seen in the Pictorialist work of Gertrude Käsebier, to documents of childhood's harsher, social realities, as seen in the photographs of Lewis Hine and Dorothea Lange," Aspinwall said. "In selecting contemporary works, we included photographers such as a Sage Sohier and Julie Blackmon, who touch on more current trends, like over-involved parenting and over-scheduled families."

The significance of education, play and imagination, the relationship between adults and children, and the place of children in the adult world also are considered.

The Photography Collection at the Nelson-Atkins grew from its initial holding of 1,015 prints to a collection of more than 7,000 works with the acquisition in late 2005 of the famed Hallmark Photographic Collection, one of the finest holdings of its kind in the world. The Museum's photography holdings span the entire range of photography's history, from 1839 to the present, with a particular strength in American work.

In Kansas City, this exhibition is supported by the Hall Family Foundation. Midwest Airlines is the official airline sponsor.

 

Images

 

(above: Helen Levitt, American (1913-2009). New York, ca. 1939. Gelatin silver print, image: 5 7/8 x 8 5/8 inches. Gift of Hallmark Cards, Inc., 2005.27.4240. © Courtesy Estate of Helen Levitt/Laurence Miller Gallery, N.Y.)

 

(above: Morris Engel, American (1918-2005). Comic Book Stand, New York, ca. 1945. Gelatin silver print, image: 10 1/2 x 13 3/8 inches. Gift of Hallmark Cards, Inc., 2005.27.3953. © Morris Engel.)

 

(above: Frederick Sommer, American (b. Italy, 1905-1999). Livia, 1948. Gelatin silver print, image: 7 _ x 9 5/16 inches. Gift of the Hall Family Foundation, 2005.37.395. © Frederick & Frances Sommer Foundation.)


(above: Gloria Baker Feinstein, American (b. 1954). Boy with Ball, Kajjansi, Uganda, 2007. Inkjet print, image: 16 x 16 inches. Gift of the Hall Family Foundation, 2008.41.13. © Gloria Baker-Feinstein.)


Wall text from the exhibition

Hide & Seek:
Picturing Childhood
 
I'd give all wealth that years have piled,
The slow result of Life's decay,
To be once more a little child
For one bright summer day.
 
-- Lewis Carroll, from the poem "Solitude" (1853)
 
Since photography's inception in 1839, children have been popular subjects for the camera. For personal posterity, families record individual moments in a child's life. More broadly, we look to pictures of children as collective memories of childhood itself -- a phase of life to which we can never return. This exhibition explores our fascination with childhood as pictured throughout photography's history. In a variety of ways, these photographers explore the inherent complexity of the subject itself, which falls somewhere between innocence and knowing, nature and nurture, metaphor and fact. Conceptions and themes include romantic childhood and childhood's harsher realities; the significance of education, play and imagination; the relationship between adults and children; and the place of children in the adult world.
 
The modern, Western concept of childhood as distinct from adulthood dates to around the 17th century, when it was first thought that children were born innocent: blank slates upon which society writes its moral and ethical prescriptions. Today, in an age of helicopter parenting and media-saturation, innocence means something quite different. Cultural, economic and family structures have shifted in an increasingly globalized, televisual society, such that the social and biological parameters defining childhood have become more difficult to secure.
 
Various tensions inform these images, including the desire to protect and shelter a child, while acknowledging life's darker corners; and the push towards material and social success, while wanting a place for imagination and play. Collectively, these photographers evoke the complexities and contradictions of childhood, acknowledging its importance as a subject worthy of serious contemplation.
 
 


Object labels from the exhibition

 
Lewis Carroll (Charles Lutwidge Dodgson)
English, 1832-1898
Alexandra Kitchin, ca. 1868
Albumen print
 
Lewis Carroll, an Oxford deacon best known today as the author of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, was a prolific amateur photographer who, between 1856 and 1880, produced some of the most arresting portraits of children ever made.
 
Carroll was uncomfortable with adults, preferring instead the company of young children-girls in particular. With a genuine understanding of a child's imagination, Carroll immediately put his subjects at ease. The resulting photographs suggest-in sometimes unsettling ways for modern viewers-the intense seriousness of a child's inner life without sentimental overlay.
 
Alexandra Kitchin, the daughter of Carroll's old friend and Oxford colleague, was one of Carroll's favorite models throughout the 1870s. She is shown here, at age four, in a stunning early portrait.
Gift of the Hall Family Foundation, 2008.41.8
 
 
Frances Benjamin Johnston
American, 1864-1952
Washington, D.C., Classroom, 1899
Cyanotype
 
In 1899, Frances Benjamin Johnston spent six weeks photographing the schools of Washington, D.C., producing a total of 700 views. A social issue of vital importance at the turn of the 20th century, education was widely regarded as the key to establishing moral and civic virtue. A well behaved and educated child was expected to become a productive future member of society. With this in mind, Johnson's carefully composed views portray classrooms as models of order and civility.
 
Gift of Hallmark Cards, Inc., 2005.27.2720
 
 
Frank Lloyd Wright
American, 1867-1959
Girls Gym Class, 1900
Collotype
 
The education of children at the turn of the 20th century took many forms. The Hillside Home School, in Spring Green, Wisconsin, was a progressive school run by Ellen and Jane Lloyd-Jones, the aunts of architect Frank Lloyd Wright. It opened in 1886 on property owned by Wright's grandfather, and Wright's nieces, nephews and younger sisters were all students there. In addition to academic achievement, Hillside emphasized personal growth, physical activity, artistic self expression and love of nature. In this view of a girls' gym class exercise, Wright's eye for structural relationships is evident: the verticality of the girls and the trees is juxtaposed with the long horizontal shadows on the ground.
 
Gift of Hallmark Cards, Inc., 2005.27.4534
 
 
Clifton Johnson
American, 1865-1940
Blackboard Problems, Montana, ca. 1910
Gelatin silver print
 
Gift of Hallmark Cards, Inc., 2005.27.4040
 
 
 
William Larue
American, b. 1928
Understanding Numbers, 1963
Gelatin silver print
 
Gift of Hallmark Cards, Inc., 2005.27.2753
 
 
Wendy Ewald (with Angelica Molina)
American, b. 1951
Hello, Hello, Hello, Benson, North Carolina, 1990
Gelatin silver print
 
As an educator in Durham, North Carolina, Wendy Ewald taught photography to elementary school children as a means of self-expression. This experience led to the development of her innovative Literacy Through Photography program in which Ewald used the medium to inspire children to explore their own lives and dreams. In this series, Ewald photographed each student and then encouraged them to inscribe their image in some meaningful way. The result is a poignant collaborative portrait-a creative interaction between photographer and subject.
 
Gift of Hallmark Cards, Inc., 2005.27.4548
 
 
Judith Joy Ross
American, b. 1946
Michael Bodner, A.D. Thomas Elementary School (first grade), Hazleton, PA, 1993
Gelatin silver print
 
Gift of Hallmark Cards, Inc., 2005.27.215
 
 
F. Milton Armbrust
American, 1896-1964
Untitled (Two Children Reading Comics), ca. 1920­25
Carbon print
 
Gift of Hallmark Cards, Inc., 2005.27.2527
 
 
Morris Engel
American, 1918-2005
Comic Book Stand, New York, ca. 1945
Gelatin silver print
 
The first American comic books were produced in the 1930s; by the 1940s they had become a big business. Morris Engel's tightly composed image of a young boy engrossed in, and surrounded by, comic books at a newsstand emphasizes both the popularity of the genre and its ability to fully absorb the attention of its young reader.
 
After World War II, television came to dominate domestic leisure and entertainment. The commensurate downturn in comic book sales incited more lurid and violent content, which in turn raised anxieties about the genre's potential for corrupting young minds. In his shrill book Seduction of the Innocent (1954), Dr. Frederic Wertham wrote: "Badly drawn, badly written, and badly printedthe effects of these pulp-paper nightmares is that of a violent stimulant."
 
Gift of Hallmark Cards, Inc., 2005.27.3953
 
 
Gertrude Käsebier
American, 1852-1934
Happy Days, 1903
Photogravure
 
The turn of the 19th century gave rise to the Pictorialists-photographers who made highly poetic and subjective images, often muted in focus, centering on themes of nature, family and home. The Pictorialists' emphasis on photography as a fine art dovetailed perfectly with the romantic belief in the "priceless child," uncorrupted by-and existing outside-a world of commerce, schedules and labor. Gertrude Käsebier's pastoral scene of children playing outdoors exemplifies these romantic values. The image is dramatically cropped to focus attention on the youngest child in the middle of the picture. This bold framing creates a sense of childhood as a world unto itself, timeless and untouched by the materiality of the everyday world.
 
Gift of Hallmark Cards, Inc., 2005.27.3227
 
 
Harry C. Rubincam
American, 1871-1940
Untitled (Boy with Toy Soldiers), ca. 1905
Platinum print
 
Gift of Hallmark Cards, Inc., 2005.27.2897
 
 
Julie Blackmon
American, b. 1966
Birds at Home, 2007
Inkjet print
 
In the 21st century, middle-class childhood often involves a litany of activities and obligations, an over-extension of the entire family to prioritize sports practices, music and dance lessons, academic tutoring, play dates and work. Much of the time in a child's day is scheduled and structured by organized activities or social engagements. Inspired by the 17th-century Dutch paintings of Jan Steen (see Gallery P17), Julie Blackmon evokes a rare moment of equilibrium amidst the day's haste and confusion. Here, children are depicted in a myriad of different activities-one child plays with toys, one reads, one plays with a cat, one stands holding her dress and one leans contemplatively on a chair, as if considering what to do next.
 
Gift of the Hall Family Foundation, 2008.13.2
 
 
Sid Grossman
American, 1913-1955
New York, 1947
Gelatin silver print
 
Children use play as a means of decoding and mimicking the world around them. Play can be an experiential way of learning, teaching lessons about cooperation and problem solving, as well as an outlet for competitive instincts, role-playing and fantasy. Here, Sid Grossman captures two children aiming toy guns at each other in a blur of action; the differing wall surfaces in the background further enforce the two opposing figures. The use of guns in play-of understandable concern to some-evokes powerful cultural stereotypes of Western gunslingers and World War II soldiers. In today's increasingly violent society, the fear that make-believe will translate into reality continues to incite anxieties about the effects of popular culture on children.
 
Gift of Hallmark Cards, Inc., 2005.27.4012
 
 
Helen Levitt
American, 1913-2009
New York, ca. 1939
Gelatin silver print
 
Gift of Hallmark Cards, Inc., 2005.27.4240
 
 
Helen Levitt
American, 1913-2009
New York, ca. 1938
Gelatin silver print
 
One of the most important photographers of children, Helen Levitt's entire life's work was devoted to evoking the vitality of New York street life. Her resulting images, imbued with grace, drama and humor, influenced generations of future photographers. Intrigued by the chalk drawings she saw on the sidewalks of New York, Levitt photographed the spontaneous and imaginative play of children in working class neighborhoods. Increasingly, in mid-20th-century America, these children were left to their own devices, often without sustained adult supervision, to create games on their streets and sidewalks.
 
Gift of Hallmark Cards, Inc., 2005.27.1787
 
 
Walter Rosenblum
American, 1919-2000
Three Children on Swings, "Pitt Street" Series, New York, 1938
Gelatin silver print
 
Gift of Hallmark Cards, Inc., 2005.27.4333
 
 
William Klein
American, b. 1928
Swing & Boy & Girl, New York, 1955
Gelatin silver print
 
Gift of Hallmark Cards, Inc., 2005.27.4177
 
 
Gloria Baker Feinstein
American, b. 1954
Boy with Ball, Kajjansi, Uganda, 2007
Inkjet print
 
Shortly after her return from a 2006 trip to East Africa, Gloria Baker Feinstein established the non-profit organization Change the Truth to assist Ugandan children orphaned as a result of AIDS or war. While fully aware of the harsh facts of their situation, Feinstein strives to suggest a larger sense of affirmation and transcendence. The dire circumstances of many of these children would seem to point to a sorrowful existence, but the joy one child exudes in the simple act of throwing a ball is impossible to suppress. The repeated acts of floating-the boy, the ball, the billowing sheets on the laundry line-suggest at least a temporary freedom from the weight of this reality.
 
Gift of the Hall Family Foundation, 2008.41.13
 
 
Francis Miller
American, 1905-1973
Ten grade school kids sitting around TV set in living room, Minneapolis, Minnesota, 1951
Gelatin silver print
 
Television remains the most ubiquitous-and controversial-technology to impact childrearing in the 20th century. Since the early 1950s, when TV became a common presence in American households, cultural critics and educators have debated the relative merits and hazards of "the boob tube" with respect to the emotional, educational and psychological development of children. This image first appeared in a Life magazine article titled "School by TV." It depicts children in Minneapolis gathered in front of a television set to watch a hygiene program broadcast from their school during a teacher's strike, while the mother of four of them looks on from the kitchen.
 
Gift of the Hall Family Foundation, 2009.37.8
 
 
Yasuhiro Ishimoto
Japanese, b. 1921
Girl with Balloon, Chicago, ca. 1950s
Gelatin silver print
 
Gift of Hallmark Cards, Inc., 2005.27.2716
 
 
Edward Sturr
American, b. 1937
Chicago (girl against column), 1966
Gelatin silver print
 
Gift of Hallmark Cards, Inc., 2005.27.2963
 
 
Andrea Modica
American, b. 1960
Treadwell, New York, 1987
Platinum print
 
Writer E. Annie Proulx, who wrote the introductory essay for Andrea Modica's Treadwell book, wrote of this image: "is the clasp tender, is the bathrobed child prevented from hearing something dreadful, is the other seeing something that cannot be forgotten?"
 
Gift of Hallmark Cards, Inc., 2005.27.2781
 
 
Nicholas Nixon
American, b. 1947
Joel Geiger, Perkins School for the Blind, 1992
Gelatin silver print
 
Gift of Hallmark Cards, Inc., 2005.27.4275
 
 
Robert Lyons
American, b. 1954
Young Girl Outside Manhiya Palace, Kumasi, Ghana, 1997
Chromogenic print
 
In the photographic depiction of childhood, a central theme is the intricate relationship between adults and the young. Some adults are seen on the periphery, not completely engaged with the child, but standing at arm's length in a supervisory role. Other adults, through gesture or embrace, convey their desire to nurture, guide, support, and protect. In this photograph, from Robert Lyons' series Another Africa, the focus is squarely on the young girl. Although the adult holding her hand is clearly in a supportive role, only a portion of his body is included in the frame; the man is headless, cropped across one shoulder and above the knee.
Gift of Hallmark Cards, 2005.27.4056
 
 
 
Sally Mann
American, b. 1951
Gorjus, 1989
Gelatin silver print
 
Sally Mann's sensual and sometimes controversial portraits of her children received great attention in the early 1990s. Mann's Immediate Family series, which includes this photograph of her two daughters playing dress-up, marked a pivotal moment in the visual history of childhood. By crafting lush, black-and-white photographs of her beautiful, often naked or semi-clothed children, engaged in various forms of play, Mann deliberately blurred the line between private and public realms. In so doing, Mann challenged conventional notions of motherhood, childhood innocence and artistic propriety. Mann's children are not the blank slates of Jean-Jacques Rousseau's Enlightenment ideal. Rather, they are knowing beings, endowed with a physical and psychological self-identity, who nonetheless remain vulnerable to the realities of the adult world.
 
Gift of Hallmark Cards, Inc., 2005.27.4058
 
 
Walter Rosenblum
American, 1919-2000
Boy on Roof, New York,"Pitt Street" Series, 1950
Gelatin silver print
 
Gift of Hallmark Cards, Inc., 2005.27.4332
 
 
Henri Leighton
American, b. 1917
Untitled (boy on street), ca. 1950­53
Gelatin silver print
 
Gift of Hallmark Cards, Inc., 2005.27.1777
 
 
Betsy Schneider
American, b. 1965
Hummingbird, 2006
Inkjet print
 
For some photographers, including Emmet Gowin, Sally Mann and Betsy Schneider, an exploration of childhood unfolds in the recognition of singular, intimate moments that occur within the context of the family but which illuminate larger, universal truths. In this image, Schneider's son cradles a dead hummingbird in a paper towel. The boy's earnest, slightly bewildered expression seems to demand from his mother (and by extension, the viewer) an explanation for this small tragedy. Schneider's photograph thus transcends the personal, becoming a bittersweet meditation on a child's nascent understanding of death.
 
Gift of the Hall Family Foundation, 48.2009.2
 
 
 
Sage Sohier
American, b. 1954
Girl being prepared for a horse show, Sandwich, NH, 2004
Chromogenic print
 
Since the mid-1970s, Sage Sohier has made environmental portraits that explore the psychological undercurrents linking individuals to their social and material contexts. In this image from Sohier's series Perfectible Worlds, a young girl stands determinedly while three adults groom her for a horse show. The seriousness of the scene suggests that, in our current age of helicopter parenting, a child's progress and the quest for personal achievement-driven by the social priorities of adults-often begins at a very young age.
 
Gift of the Hall Family Foundation, 2009.37.14
 
 
Leonard Freed
American, 1929-2006
Harlem, New York, USA, 1963
Gelatin silver print
 
Taken at the height of the American civil rights movement, this photograph of a young boy playing "tough" with others on the streets of Harlem speaks volumes about the historical and social circumstances shaping childhood. The boy's overtly masculine gesture and expression-raising his fist to make a muscle, while looking determinedly into the camera-convey the confidence and solidarity that characterized black empowerment in Harlem during the early 1960s. Leonard Freed worked as a freelance photographer for the Magnum photo agency during these years, earning critical acclaim for his coverage of the civil rights movement. His book Black in White America, which includes this photograph, was published in 1968.
 
Gift of Hallmark Cards, Inc., 2005.27.3996
 
 
Andrea Modica
American, b. 1960
Treadwell, New York, 1986
Platinum print
 
Andrea Modica's Treadwell series focuses on a young girl named Barbara and her family living in rural, upstate New York. The photographs are both haunting and tender and, at times, seem more fictive than real. As one critic has noted, the images seem like "metaphors for childhood as another country."
In this image, Barbara, playing with a cat, looks at an adolescent couple embracing in the grass-suggesting an early encounter with sexuality that is at once strange and enticing.
 
Gift of Hallmark Cards, Inc., 2005.27.4285
 
 
Rosalind Solomon
American, b. 1930
Girl with paint at Kali Puja, India, 1981
Gelatin silver print
 
Gift of Hallmark Cards, Inc., 2005.27.2166
 
 
Lewis W. Hine
American, 1874-1940
Spinner and Foreman in Georgia cotton mill, 1908
Gelatin silver print
 
In the early 20th century, Pictorialists conveyed the Romantic view that childhood should be firmly separated from the adult realm. It should be characterized by play, removed from the commercial world, supervised and directed by adults. From this point of view, play was considered a precious and essential element of healthy development. Photographers like Lewis Hine contrasted these idealistic assumptions of childhood with the darker realities of his day, including the prevalence of child labor. Here, Hine emphasizes the diminutiveness of the girl in relation to the vast industrial machinery. The spinner's small body, contrasted to the adult standing beside her and the seemingly infinite line of bobbins, points to her inappropriate existence in an adult world completely void of play.
Gift of Hallmark Cards, Inc., 2005.27.1435
 
 
Dorothea Lange
American, 1895-1965
Child and her Mother, FSA Rehabilitations Clients, Near Wapato, Yakima Valley, Washington, 1939
Gelatin silver print
 
Gift of Hallmark Cards, Inc., 2005.27.4208
 
 
Dorothea Lange
American, 1895-1965
Pledge of Allegiance at Rafael Weill Elementary School, San Francisco, 1942
Gelatin silver print
 
Despite the ideal of a protected childhood realm, children exist in a world shaped by adults-one of frequent economic hardship and political turmoil. Dorothea Lange photographed this young girl at a school in San Francisco's Japantown shortly before the official roundup and internment of all Japanese Americans just after the start of World War II. After the bombing of Pearl Harbor, all persons of Japanese descent were considered national security risks. Here, a multi-ethnic mix of earnest faces-"one nation, under God, indivisible"-is given a deliberately ironic overtone.
 
Gift of Hallmark Cards, Inc., 2005.27.4194
 
 
Cecil Beaton
English, 1904-1980
Evacuated children in nursery at tea time, England, ca. 1941
Gelatin silver print
 
During the Second World War, Cecil Beaton, a respected British fashion photographer, was posted to the Ministry of Information with the task of recording the home front in wartime. In this photograph, a group of evacuated children are safeguarded in a former bachelor housing complex-forty children cared for by four women. Dressed in identical smocks and sitting in a row, the children were photographed by Beaton using the light from the window at left to highlight each individual, precious child.
Gift of the Hall Family Foundation, 2009.37.4
 
 
Ernest Lowe
American, b. 1934
Irrigator and his Children, West Side of Fresno County, Along Highway 33, 1961
Gelatin silver print
 
Gift of Hallmark Cards, Inc., 2005.27.2745
 
 
Tosh Matsumoto
American, b. 1920
Untitled (Boy in Doorway of Camp Housing), ca. 1942
Gelatin silver print
 
Gift of Hallmark Cards, Inc., 2005.27.1815
 
 
 
August Sander
American, born Germany, 1876-1964
Farm Children, ca. 1927­28
Gelatin silver print (printed 1991)
 
In his encompassing photographic project, People of the Twentieth Century, August Sander created a typological catalogue of over 600 photographs of the citizens of his native Germany. Created in the 1920s, this work was later banned by the Nazis because Sander's vision did not uphold the racist myth of an ideal Aryan type. Through Sander's controlled aesthetic, the children appear stiff and emotionally separate, rather than engaged in more relaxed, carefree play. These children are not romanticized, but rather pictured as archetypal examples of farm children: dressed neatly in traditional clothing, the girl-her large hair bow neatly in place-holds a ball while the boy stands erect, in exceptional command of his dog.
 
Gift of the Hall Family Foundation, 2009.37.13
 
 
 
Frederick Sommer
American, born Italy, 1905-1999
Livia, 1948
Gelatin silver print
 
"All children are ambassadors," wrote Frederick Sommer. His metaphor is a poetic notion that children are, by nature, more highly attuned to certain human truths than adults, and therefore capable of serving as both conduits and messengers. In this striking portrait, Sommer conveys the intensity of the girl's calculating stare-one that belies the innocence suggested by her proper demeanor. In fact, Sommer slyly titled the portrait after Livia Drusilla, wife of the Roman Emperor Augustus, who was known, among other things, for her political machinations and quest for power.
 
Gift of Hallmark Cards, Inc., 2005.37.395
 
 
 
Jocelyn Lee
American, born Italy, 1962
Untitled (Mimi in Nightgown), 1999
Chromogenic print
 
Since the mid 1990s, Jocelyn Lee has made portraits that emphasize a sense of both physical and psychological presence. Lee is particularly interested in the way her subjects-often children and adolescents-convey a peculiar quality of vulnerability: a union of fragility and strength. In this photograph, a young girl faces the camera directly. Her gaze suggests a deeper understanding of life than one might expect from a child her age, while her wrinkled nightgown and pink slippers, worn outdoors, situate her more firmly in a carefree conception of childhood.
 
Gift of the Hall Family Foundation, 48.2009.1
 
 
Emmet Gowin
American, b. 1941
Nancy Danville, Virginia, 1969
Gelatin silver print (printed 1980)
 
Gift of Hallmark Cards, Inc., 2005.27.1399
 
 
Saul Leiter
American, b. 1923
New York, ca. 1950
Gelatin silver print
 
Saul Leiter's New York City street scenes of the 1950s are highly personal explorations of a city that is at once alienating and captivating. The young girl in this image appears disconnected from the adult world around her, absorbed completely in her own thoughts. She stands alone, shadowed against a brilliant shaft of light amidst the hustle and bustle of blurred strangers.
Gift of Hallmark Cards, Inc., 2005.27.2761
 
 
 
Ralph Eugene Meatyard
American, 1925-1972
Romance (N.), From Ambrose Bierce #3, 1962
Gelatin silver print (printed 1983)
 
Gift of Hallmark Cards, Inc., 2005.27.1948
 
 
Ralph Eugene Meatyard
American, 1925-1972
Untitled (Boy sitting on staircase), 1960
Gelatin silver print
 
In the late 1950s, Ralph Eugene Meatyard-a practicing optician in Lexington, Kentucky-began a series of photographs he described as "uncanny," which to him "gave the feeling of being not quite of this world." Children-often his own sons-figured prominently in these evocative photographs. Posed in dark, abandoned interiors or shown wearing Halloween masks, Meatyard's children function symbolically, as young protagonists in a mysterious realm of fear and adventure, alienation and imagination.
 
Gift of Hallmark Cards, Inc., 2005.27.1853
 
 
Keith Carter
American, b. 1948
Fireflies, 1992
Gelatin silver print
 
Keith Carter's lush printing techniques and adept manipulation of focus transform otherwise mundane subjects into visual metaphors that connect with deep memories of childhood. The two boys in this photograph are seen only as shadowy silhouettes. The common act of capturing fireflies becomes, in Carter's vision, a magical ritual steeped in mystery and wonder.
 
Gift of Hallmark Cards, Inc., 2005.27.3926

 

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