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Mid-Century American

Vintage Photographs From The Collection Of Norman Hall

April–June 2018

Leonard McCome, Governor's Garden Party, Grenada Island, ​c. 1959. Guests huddle under a large umbrella on the right of the frame while three suited men on the left hold chairs above their heads.
Harold Feinstein, Man and wife drinking Krueger beer, Coney Island, ​1952. A man holds a cigarette in one hand and drinks beer with the other, with one arm around a woman who smiles at the camera.
Bob Hollingsworth, Open Air Art Show, Union Square, San Francisco, ​1949. Four older women, purses in their laps, sit beneath a metal fence covered in framed landscape and still life paintings.
Sanford H. Roth, Movie Pet Lovemaking, ​c. 1958. Two white birds on a branch in the upper right of the frame. Various men fill the lower half of the frame.
James MacPherson, Untitled, ​c. 1961. An older man in round glasses with legs crossed sits on wooden risers, looking down at a pigeon perched beside him.
Ansel Adams, Roots, Foster Gardens, Honolulu, ​1948. Tree roots curve toward the camera with small vegetation between them.
Ansel Adams, Mt. Williamson from Manzanar, Owens Valley, Calif., ​1944. Landscape. Rocks fill the lower half of the frame. Background of mountains and light beams traveling diagonally down and left through clouds.
Leonard McCombe, Lonely Dog, Rio de Janeiro, ​1955. Small black dog in the center of an empty street. A large crowd gathers in the distance in the center left of the frame.
John Bryson, A 'family' picture of the photographer's wife and dog, ​c. 1959. A woman reclines in a hammock in the upper right of the frame, a black dog stands beneath the hammock to the left, poking its head through the hammock to the woman's face.
Leonard McCombe, Untitled, ​1951. A large group of horses in motion.
Morris H. Jaffe, Untitled, c. 1955–1960. Dark image of a black cat in a dark setting. It's eyes are in the center right of the frame.
Ken Heyman, Untitled, ​c. 1955–1960. A lioness rests on a rock, surrounded by grasses, with trees and mountains in the background.
Pirkle Jones, Untitled, ​c. 1955–1960. Detail of a white house with an open door and shuttered window. A tall plant grows in front of the window.
Ansel Adams, The White Church, Hornitos, California, ​1946. Frame is divided from lower right to upper left by a wooden fence. A small white building occupies the upper right.
Bob Hollingsworth, Untitled, ​c. 1955–1960. Nude female figure leans against a door frame with arms raised, back to the camera.
Ruth Bernhard, Harvest, ​1953. A woman's pregnant belly superimposed with wheat-like grasses.
Ruth Bernhard, Luminous Body, ​1962. Nude female figure pressed against glass, facing the camera and lit from the right.
Ruth Bernhard, Classic Torso (Variant), ​1952. Kneeling nude female torso with one leg bent beneath her and one bent in front of her; one shoulder rests on the raised knee.
Marvin D. Koehler, Untitled, ​c. 1955. A woman lays in shallow water amidst crashing waves, legs raised up above her. She is smiling and the scene is blurred with motion.
Clemens Kalischer, New York Street Scene, Italians, c. 1955–1960. A young girl looks to the camera in the foreground while a woman stands, facing right, out of focus behind her.
Ken Heyman, Young Crucifix, ​c. 1963. A young shirtless boy stands in a crevice between a wall and window, facing left with head bent to lean against a bent arm on the window frame. His right arm is extended backward to reach a metal fence that extends toward the camera.
Ken Heyman, Young Crucifix, ​c. 1963. Three young boys play on a swing set; the boys to the left and right reach to hold onto the center swing.
Jules Aarons, Late Shadows, ​c. 1955. Dark scene in an alley with a young boy out of focus in the foreground left. Two young girls stand in the background right.
Leonard McCombe, School Out, ​1955. A young boy in the center of the frame, back to the camera, skips down a suburban street.
Peter Basch, One of the citizens of Salzburg keeps up with the news on market day, ​c. 1957. A small boy sits on the edge of a wooden crate reading a newspaper beneath an umbrella with patrons shopping around him.
Don Worth, Untitled, ​c. 1955–1960. Abstract, dark photo of bubbles on a liquid's surface.
Marguerite Johnson, Las Mascaras, ​c. 1955–1960. High-contrast image of three rows of large masks.
Harold Zegart, Untitled, ​c. 1958. A row of four large metal pieces of farming or industrial equipment.
Gerard Oppenheimer, George Washington Bridge: Detail, ​c. 1955. Camera points up in the middle of four ropes extending upward towards a cloudy sky.

Press Release

As a photo editor for the British Journal of Photography, the Photography Year Book, and The Times of London, Norman Hall helped to elevate photography to the respected art form that it is today. Hall served as an editor of the Photography Year Book from 1954 to 1963. Through his careful curation of this yearly publication, Hall celebrated established and emerging photographers alike for their ability to "record the truth, not just because of any natural regard for principle but because they know that people who see photographs like to believe them" (Hall, Photography Year Book, 1962). This exhibition features American photographers’ images from Hall’s collection of works submitted to Photography Year Book. A true photographers’ publication, images were submitted and printed with full technical details on equipment, exposure, and development.

 

Many of the photographs in this exhibition, and the majority of Hall's selections for publication, focus on human interest. From fashion shoot outtakes to LIFE magazine assignments, many of these images were made for the printed page, to be featured in magazines and newspapers, but Hall and his audience valued them as works of art. The photographs in his collection provide a glimpse into the mid-century mindset of America and the larger world. He considered photography to be "the one true international language," (Hall, Photography Year Book, 1962) with the ability to reveal the similarities between people across the globe.

Reminiscent of Steichen's groundbreaking Family of Man exhibition – and indeed featuring some of the same artists – Hall's collection attempts an encyclopedic sampling of photographic styles and subjects. The American photographers captured universal moments that took place in their own homes and on unfamiliar streets. Many of the images were part of a series or photographic essay, and Hall chose the most appealing and thoughtful photographs for his books.

 

At this time, the proliferation of photographic magazines such as LIFE helped to create a wider audience for photography. On the gallery walls, one will find acclaimed professional photographers such as Ansel Adams, Ruth Bernhard, Louis Stettner, and Bob Willoughby. In addition, as in Hall's publications, the works of lesser-known photographers are featured alongside those of the established image-makers, and prove to be of equal technical and conceptual quality.

 

Mid-Century American will be on view at the Keith de Lellis Gallery through June 15, 2018.