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16.03.2009

 

NEW YORK - Big City. Street Photography at Vienna Museum - the highs and the lows, the glitz and the grit

Vibrant, always in motion with cameras ready to snap at all times – the city and its inhabitants in focus: This particular style of photography emerged essentially in the United States of the 1940s. Here, over the course of the next three decades, street photography accelerated into its full bloom. Especially the Big Apple New York turned out to be an extraordinary laboratory. Hitherto, all faces of urban life bundled and amplified in this very city, drawing together all the country's creative forces – artists, magazines, publishers and cultural institutions.

The crucial foundation for street photography was a technical innovation: The invention of the candid camera. It disclosed astounding new possibilities for photographers. Gone were the times of static exposure with cumbersome apparatuses, from now on the “snapshot” and the hunt for the right “moment” called the shots and not only for journalistic photography. Yet, other than the elegantly composed street pictures by Henri Cartier-Bresson, some agents of street photography tended to use the camera in a more aggressive fashion.

The exhibition, a Vienna museum's own, encompasses the significant era of street photography from the 1940s up to the early 1980s and offers – an Austrian premiere – a broad overview featuring works by the all important ambassadors of American Street Photography. Approximately 150 pictures can be adored, including those by  Diane Arbus, Ted Croner, Bruce Davidson, Walker Evans, Louis Faurer, Robert Frank, Lee Friedlander, Sid Grossman, Charles Harbutt, William Klein, Saul Leiter, Leon Levinstein, Helen Levitt, Joel Meyerowitz, Tod Papageorge, Charles Traub, Weegee and Garry Winogrand. The Vienna museum was able to attain Gilles Mora as an exhibition curator.

Influenced by abstract expressionism, the photographers since the 1950s broke the chains of conventional documentary photography and relied increasingly on a subjective composition of images. It was not until the 1960s, that photography had established itself as a serious form of art, even though only in black & white for the time being. Street photography regained momentum through colour photography. All of the sudden, the city gleamed in colour, as if a monochrome veil has been torn apart. 

Famous American fashion magazines functioned as a stage for the protagonists of street photography and benefited from their vibrancy. Louis Faurer photographed for Life, Vogue and Flair, the Swiss photographer Robert Frank earned his lolly at New York's Harper's Bazaar, Saul Leiter for Esquire, Elle and Show. The Limelight Gallery, founded in 1954 by Helen Gee was the scene's axis. Here, photographs were bartered with professionally and new styles were born. 


NEW YORK - Big City
until 24th of May 2009
at the Vienna Museum Karlsplatz
Tuesday to Sunday and on Bank Holiday, 9am to 6pm

WIEN MUSEUM : BIG CITY NEW YORK STREET PHOTOGRAPHY

WIEN MUSEUM : BIG CITY NEW YORK STREET PHOTOGRAPHY

WIEN MUSEUM : BIG CITY NEW YORK STREET PHOTOGRAPHY

WIEN MUSEUM : BIG CITY NEW YORK STREET PHOTOGRAPHY

WIEN MUSEUM : BIG CITY NEW YORK STREET PHOTOGRAPHY

WIEN MUSEUM : BIG CITY NEW YORK STREET PHOTOGRAPHY

WIEN MUSEUM : BIG CITY NEW YORK STREET PHOTOGRAPHY

WIEN MUSEUM : BIG CITY NEW YORK STREET PHOTOGRAPHY

WIEN MUSEUM : BIG CITY NEW YORK STREET PHOTOGRAPHY

WIEN MUSEUM : BIG CITY NEW YORK STREET PHOTOGRAPHY

WIEN MUSEUM : BIG CITY NEW YORK STREET PHOTOGRAPHY

WIEN MUSEUM : BIG CITY NEW YORK STREET PHOTOGRAPHY

WIEN MUSEUM : BIG CITY NEW YORK STREET PHOTOGRAPHY

WIEN MUSEUM : BIG CITY NEW YORK STREET PHOTOGRAPHY

WIEN MUSEUM : BIG CITY NEW YORK STREET PHOTOGRAPHY

WIEN MUSEUM : BIG CITY NEW YORK STREET PHOTOGRAPHY

WIEN MUSEUM : BIG CITY NEW YORK STREET PHOTOGRAPHY

WIEN MUSEUM : BIG CITY NEW YORK STREET PHOTOGRAPHY

WIEN MUSEUM : BIG CITY NEW YORK STREET PHOTOGRAPHY

WIEN MUSEUM : BIG CITY NEW YORK STREET PHOTOGRAPHY