Martin Luther King Jr. Day gives us an opportunity to celebrate and consider Dr. King, his impact on the course of history, and the context for his life's work, and the aftermath of his assassination. Art reflects life, as we all know, and three photographs in the Art Institute's collection provide a look at the triumph and pain found in the story of Dr. King.
Tony Spina, a photojournalist for the Detroit Free Press, photographed Dr. King on June 23, 1963. This was the date of the Detroit Walk to Freedom, a large civil rights march that took place just a few months before the more well-known March on Washington. (In fact, King delivered an early version of his I Have a Dream speech in Detroit.) We see Dr. King waving to the crowd (estimated at 125,000) and walking alongside civic and state leaders; the image is a strong reminder of his ability to draw very visible support from politicians and citizens alike, and the boisterous energy of the Civil Rights Movement of the early 60's.
On April 4, 1968, as news of the assassination of Dr. King spread, cities around the country erupted in violent riots. Jack Jaffe, a Chicago photographer known for documenting the Civil Rights Movement, captured this somber image in Gary, Indiana. Jaffe's photograph depicts a line of figures silhouetted by flames and dwarfed by a dark, looming sky—a moment of profound sadness amongst the violence.
Finally, we have Terri Garland's Martin Luther King Day, Pulaski, Tennessee, a photograph with a darkly ironic title. The image of a smirking bigot in a tasteless t-shirt reminds us that perhaps the only thing worse than a racist is a racist who thinks he's funny. More importantly, it reminds us why we have a holiday in commemoration of the life and spirit of Dr. King: we are all responsible for carrying on his work.
Tony Spina. Martin Luther King in Detroit, June 23, 1963, printed by June 24, 1988. Ernest N. Kahn Photography Fund.
6 hours 44 min ago The Art Institute of Chicago NOW OPEN—Humanism + Dynamite = The Soviet Photomontages of Aleksandr Zhitomirsky
The first exhibition in the post-Soviet world devoted to leading political artist Aleksandr Zhitomirsky offers a captivating portrayal of a satirist and loyal citizen who inventively furthered his country’s official causes across a tumultuous half-century.
8 hours 37 min ago The Art Institute of Chicago CLOSING SOON—Icelandic artist/musician Ragnar Kjartansson’s intensely durational works often manifest a rare synthesis of pathos and humor.
A Lot of Sorrow is both a music video and extended concert film, in which The National performs its ballad “Sorrow” on repeat for six hours. See the song take on new layers of meaning as the hours pass and fatigue sets in.
Closing October 16—http://bit.ly/2du3GXh
3 days 4 hours ago The Art Institute of Chicago Congratulations to the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture on their grand opening this weekend. The building, designed by architect David Adjaye, is a truly historic addition to the National Mall in Washington D.C. #APeoplesJourney #MakingHistory