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Picture the Word

A Group Exhibition of Vintage Photographs

April–June 2017

1. General Picture News, Churches Warning to Girls, c. 1920. A woman in profile on the right of the frame with one hand on a pasted sign that begins: "Warning to girls: Do not under any circumstances accept drives in Motor Cars, or Motor Lorries, or rides on Motor Cycles, with any man, or woman whom you do not personally know..."
2. Beuford Smith, Harlem, NY, ​n.d. Shop window of "Elizabeth's Flower Shop" with various floral arrangements and signs describing services.
3. Todd Webb, Rockefeller Center, New York City. Shops on Sixth Avenue near Rockefeller Center, ​1947. Street scene featuring a shoe-shaped neon sign for "Radio City Hats" in the upper left of the frame.
4. Jan Lukas, Untitled, ​1964. Pedestrians walk over a footbridge labeled "Manhattan" above a multi-lane road with cars.
5. Caio Garrubba, Untitled, ​1960. Times Square street scene with various advertisements and marquees. Taxis and pedestrians in the street in the foreground.
6. David Attie, Times Square, ​1958. Abstract, distorted composition of neon signs in Times Square.
7. Simpson Kalisher, Untitled, ​1962. Two pedestrians pass a storefront with various "Going out of business" signs and stacks of suitcases in the shop window.
8. LeRoy Henderson, Central Park Anti-Vietnam War Rally, 1968. Young child sits against large banner that reads "PEACE" and fills the frame.
9. LeRoy Henderson, Washington, D.C. Poor People's Campaign, ​1968. Older man stands in the street holding a sign that reads "Happiness is: a warm dry house, no rats, or roaches, lots of good food"
10. LeRoy Henderson, Cafe Wha! Greenwich Village, N.Y. (MacDougal Street), ​c. 1965. Man leas against building covered in signs such as "Free admission," Live Rock n' Roll," and "Dancing"
11. Simpson Kalisher, Untitled, ​c. 1960. Man seated at deli counter behind window that reads "Delicatessen"
12. Arthur Rothstein, Unemployed Musicians, New York City, ​c. 1935. Group of five men holding instruments stand outside of a deli.
13. Weegee, Untitled, ​c. 1945. Two men stand in the foreground left talking; a third man stands on a ladder in the background in front of a large sign that reads "Irishman"
14. Bedrich Grunzweig, Times Square at Night, New York City, ​c. 1959. Pedestrians stand in the sidewalk and street holding umbrellas; a large marquee in the upper left of the frame reads "On the beach".
15. Marvin E. Newman, Chicago, ​1950. Three adults chatting by a mailbox, one seated on a fire hydrant. A billboard in the background reads "For world peace, for continued prosperity, vote Democratic
Cecil Beaton, New York, ​c. 1935. A horse-drawn carriage marked "Ice" on the street in front of a building marked "Whelan Soda Candy Lunch"
17. Gordon Coster, Untitled, n.d. Long shadows cast the word "Midwest" across a map of the United States.
18. Gordon Coster, Untitled, ​c. 1938. Crowd of children in winter coats holding signs above their heads. Signs are in partial view, but the words "MILK" AND "JOB" can be seen.
19. Gordon Coster, W.P.A. Parade, Chicago, 1939. Four men walk in black coats on a snowy day, smoking cigarettes. One holds a sign that reads "National Maritime Union of America Support Guild Strike"
20. Gordon Coster, Untitled, ​1944. Newspaper display with headlines such as "Allies Invade France" and "Invasion On! Allies in France"
21. Gordon Coster, Untitled, c. 1942. A young man lights a cigarette holding a matchbox that reads "Keep Our Gun Mounts Rolling"
22. Gordon Coster, Let's All Back the Attack, c. 1943. Mural above a building entrance with a portrait that reads "Commander-in-Chief of Our Armed Forces - Let's All Back the Attack"
23. Loomis Dean, Untitled, ​c. 1942. Six men sit atop a small aircraft that reads "Hell's Angels"
24. Ed Clark, Mickey Cohen, Gangster, 1949. A suited man stands against a backdrop of newspapers pasted to the wall and ceiling, hands in pockets, looking to the camera with a serious expression.
25. Simpson Kalisher, Untitled, ​1949. A man in a bowler had holds a large sign above his head that reads "Christ for a troubled world".
26. David Attie, Untitled (for Pageant Magazine), ​n.d. The left side of the frame featured a man aiming a rifle down and to the right. His head is surrounded by the word "Why?"
27. Simpson Kalisher, Untitled, ​c. 1960. A small cart filled with buttons of various sizes supporting Nixon or Kennedy for president.
28. Howard Sochurek, Communist in Malaya, ​1952. A small body with blood on arms and a sign over the face that reads "Dead bandit ser: 8/52"
29. Simpson Kalisher, Untitled, ​1949. A worker pushes a card loaded with boxes that read "Prosperity"
30. Simpson Kalisher, Untitled, 1960
31. Simpson Kalisher, Untitled, ​n.d. A barn on the side of a country road reads "Christ is coming soon! Are you ready?" and "New Mail Pouch Tobacco"
32. Gordon Coster, Preach the Word, ​c. 1940. A suited man stands at a raised podium that reads "Preach The Word". A large star is painted on the wall behind him.
33. Howard Sochurek, Richard Nixon Campaign, ​1968. Nixon stands at a podium at the bottom of the frame. Above him, a large banner with his photograph reads "This time, vote like your whole world depended on it"
34. LeRoy Henderson, 1st Anti-Vietnam War Rally, Marchers on Madison Avenue, April 15, 1967. A young man marches in the street holding a sign that reads "No Vietnamese ever called me nigger - stop the war now!"
35. Flip Schulke, I Am a Man/Union Justice Now, Martin Luther King Memorial March for Union Justice and to End Racism, Memphis, Tennessee, ​1968. Two young men look to the camera with signs on their chests that read "I am a man"
36. James Karales, "Get Right with God" sign on Highway 80 on the Selma to Montgomery March, ​1964. Sign is in the shape of a cross in the foreground; a long procession of marchers in the background.
37. Flip Schulke, March on Washington, ​August 28, 1963. Crowd photographed from below holding signs such as "We demand an end to bias now!"
38. Bill Brandt, Religious Demonstration, Epsom Derby Day, ​c. 1933. Crowd from behind holding signs such as "Because there is wrath beware!!" and "Salvation is of the lord"
39. United Press, Every Fourth Year..., ​May 30, 1952. Large crowd photographed from above holding signs reading "Dewey," "Dewey will win," and "Dewey the people's choice"
40. Southeast Air Corps Training Center, The human side of America's well-known defense challenge is shown here by Flying Cadets in the Southeast Air Corps Training Center, who have arranged themselves on the apron in front of a Maxwell Field hanger...,​ August 11, 1941. Men photographed from above have been arranged to form the phrase "Keep em flying"
41. International News Photos, An aerial photo of Manhattan..., February 18, 1939. Dark map-like view of the city with neighborhoods, streets, and bodies of water labeled
42. Jan Lukas, New York World Fair, ​1964. Looking down on a floor with a map of New York State on it. The lower bodies of figures are visible at the top of the frame.
43. Acme Photo, "Kiss the Plumber" - A Business, Not a Pastime, February 1, 1946. Men loading a truck marked "Call Kiss the Plumber Electric Sewer Services" in front of a storefront with the same name.
44. Associated Press, Endurance Fliers Aim for New Record, ​September 21, 1949. "Refueling car" drives beneath a small airplane marked "City of Yuma"
45. Sun Wire Photo, Sun Wire Photo Trailer, ​October 7, 1937. A car tows a trailer marked "Portable wire photo transmitter"
46. Simpson Kalisher, Untitled, ​1952. Two men in army uniform photographed from behind looking through a window marked "Peep show"
47. UPI Photo, "In Fright," New York, ​April 18, 1967. A sign reads "Hairdressers unite against Phyllis Diller!" above Diller looking to the camera with a frightened expression.
48. Anonymous, Marilyn Monroe, in her first public appearance since returning from England, joins forces with Perle Mesta to launch the sale of tickets for Warner Bros' gala Actors' Studio benefit premiere of Elia Kazan's "Baby Doll" on December 18 at the Victoria Theatre..., ​December 19, 1956
49. Photo Gratis, New York: Entertainer Barbra Streisand, ​August 5, 1966. Streisand steps off of a plane marked "Barbra's Second Hand Rose," waving and carrying a small dog.
50. Anonymous, Untitled, ​1965. A woman stands between two curtains holding a sign that reads "Happyiness is a thing called you!"
51. Cleveland Press, A Pressing Assignment...is undertaken by Mrs. Ohio, April 26, 1954. A woman stands ironing in front of a sign that reads "Universal steam n' dry iron pressing contest"
52. Howard Sochurek, General Norstad, NATO Paris, ​1958. A man looks through a small opening in a door marked "No admittance except with 1. Cosmic top secret clearance, 2. Need to know, 3. Approval of duty chief. Ring bell"
52. Beuford Smith, Love, NYC, ​1975. "I love you" written in white spray paint.

Press Release

Keith de Lellis Gallery explores the relationship between text and image in its latest exhibition, Picture the Word. When photography incorporates the written word, which is the stronger element? Does the scene contradict or confirm the written message? Is the photographer's intent made clearer or obscured by the text? The viewer is invited to consider these questions as they explore the photographs on display in Picture the Word.

 

This exhibition features works by such greats as Weegee, Bill Brandt, and Simpson Kalisher, as well as anonymous press photographers and well-known photojournalists. Text is provided in the form of handmade protest signs, newspaper headlines, advertisements, graffiti, and more. Immediately, the viewer is drawn to these verbal clues, and allows the text to guide their visual navigation of the photograph.

 

Rod Slemmons, former director of the Museum of Contemporary Photography, explained the various considerations the photographer must take into account in combining text and image: "First, the words have accepted, coded meanings and contexts that affect what we see in the adjacent images. Second, the words invoke mental images that might also conflict with what we see. Third, images have meanings and contexts that may alter our engagement with the adjacent words. Fourth, images can call up words in the mind of the viewer."

While most images feature found instances of type within a scene, a select few have been constructed or posed. In either case, the text shifts the viewers' perception of the photograph, and vice versa. Ed Clark photographs gangster Mickey Cohen,  a man whose notoriety is made clear by countless newspapers, making up the backdrop for his portrait, with his name in every headline. Simpson Kalisher captures a pair of men in military uniforms from behind, the view of what holds their attention is obscured; the sign above them reads "Peep Show". What would we assume about these well-dressed men without the words featured in each image? With only the text, how would we picture the subjects of these photographs?

 

The images gathered in Picture the Word demonstrate the strengths and limitations of the written word and the photographic image, and how they can be used in tandem to convey a strong message.

 

This exhibition will be on view at the Keith de Lellis Gallery through June 23, 2017.