Publication Date

May 30, 2007


African American, Cultural

The Aperture Foundation is sponsoring several major photograph exhibits of interest to historians and patrons of the arts in the New York City area during the summer of 2007. Two of these exhibits, New York Rises and The Black Panthers: Making Sense of History, will start touring in the fall of 2007 and will run until 2011. Both are looking for institutions willing to host them on their tour. For more information, or to inquire about hosting one of the exhibits, please contact Annette Rosenblatt, Apertures Exhibitions Coordinator, at (212) 946-7128, or e-mail:

Photographs by Eugene de Salignac

This exhibition is on view at the Museum of the City of New York, May 4–September 4, 2007. From 1906–1934, Eugene de Salignac shot over 20,000 8-by-10-inch glass-plate negatives of New York City. As sole photographer at the Department of Bridges/Plant and Structures during that period of dizzying growth, he documented the creation of the city’s modern infrastructure—bridges, major municipal buildings, roads, and subways. While de Salignac focused upon the monumental structural components of the expanding city, his vision was often personal in technique and subject. He lingered on cracks and imperfections, isolated rivets and signs, played with light and composition. He photographed the Depression and its bread lines, accidents, and the workers, often shot close-up as they made careful measurements and concentrated on the task at hand. The people who populated the scene were as important as the scene itself, frequently looking directly at the camera and reminding us that growth can not happen without the labor of men. If you look at these images, carefully and continuously, new details seem to come to the forefront, allowing us to explore this period in history that de Salignac so diligently recorded. For years these remarkably lyrical photographs have been used in books and films, but never credited to de Salignac. This exhibition and book are the first presentation of this work as an aesthetically coherent oeuvre by a photographer with a unique vision.

Photographs by Bruce Davidson, and
Photographs by Stephen Shames

The exhibition is on view at the Aperture Gallery, May 18–August 2, 2007. Aperture Gallery is pleased to exhibit two seminal photographic documents of the civil rights movement. Magnum photographer Bruce Davidson spent the years 1961–65 chronicling the early chapter of the movement that was defined by a philosophy of non-violent resistance to institutionalized American racism. Davidson’s project chronicles five long years of struggle that made civil rights a national issue and led to the historic Voting Rights Act of 1965. Though such legislation represented an important step forward, it did not, however, have an immediate effect on the material conditions facing the African American community, prompting two college students, Bobby Seale and Huey P. Newton to form the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense, after Malcolm X was assassinated in 1966. The group would become emblematic of the Black Power movement that helped shape the tumultuous years of the late 1960s and early 70s. As the official photographer for the Panthers, Stephen Shames was allowed unprecedented access, enabling him to intimately document this dynamic but controversial organization from 1967–73.

Exhibit descriptions courtesy of Aperture.

This post first appeared on AHA Today.

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