decade by decade: the 1930's


october 14th, 2011 - january 7th, 2012

A majority of photographs in the PSA collection can be characterized by the movement known as Pictorialism. Bucolic landscapes, the rapidly growing cityscape, introspective portraits, and painterly nude studies were the Pictorialist’s subjects. However, one of the most iconic images to come out of the decade of the 1930s was Arthur Rothstein’s “Cimarron County, Oklahoma, 1936” showing a father and his two sons taking shelter in the midst of a dust storm. By comparison, Dr. Maurice Van DeWyer’s “Scene De Boheme” is literally a world away, yet indicative of European Pictorialism still being practiced in the 1930's.

This exhibition represented the second in a five part series – the 1920’s through the 1960’s – that will draw upon works from the collection of the Photographic Society of America (PSA) , a part of the [Photographic Resource Center] at Untitled’s growing archive of fine art photography. The goal of the Decade by Decade exhibitions is to show how the medium developed, both aesthetically and technically, illustrated with examples by numerous artists in a broad range of printing processes.

The PSA came into being as an organization in 1934, surrounded by the effects of the Great Depression in America. Many PSA members were already practicing ‘fine art’ photographers who exhibited their work in international salons and traded prints with their foreign counterparts, which is how the work of European artists such as Manuel Cervera, and Felice Andreis, and the well-known Chinese photographer, Chin-San Long came into the collection.