In the 1920s New York City surpassed London to become the most populous and industrially advanced city in the world. A dense and animated urban environment without parallel, the city emerged as the cultural icon we know today, driven in part by an influx of European artists and an upswing in the number of galleries and museums dedicated to modern art. A number of photographers working in this dynamic environment made the city and its populace their subject.
Artists such as Morris Engel, Louis Faurer, Robert Frank, Helen Levitt, Paul Strand, and Weegee were among those deeply inspired by New York City. Photographing or filming everyday scenes as well as bustling, illuminated nightlife, these artists reveled in the genre of street photographyand created some of America’s first avant-garde cinema. Groups such as the Film and Photo League (later the Photo League), formed in 1931, championed photography’s ability to record the city in transition, with a particular focus on life in working-class neighborhoods. The group remained active until 1951, and its impact lasted for decades. This trajectory of discovery and influence lies at the heart of the presentation of Film and Photo in New York
The exhibition draws on the permanent collection of the Art Institute of Chicago, which includes a significant number of New York City street photographs made between the 1920s and the 1950s. Among these works are many important photographs recently acquired thanks to a grant from the Phillip and Edith Leonian Foundation, including an extensive Morris Engel photo essay on view in its own gallery. Rarely seen films will be presented alongside the exhibition’s nearly 80 photographic works—more than half of which have never been displayed before—creating a compelling glimpse of a pivotal time in both New York City and the history of photography and film.
Gallery 4 Showtimes Paul Strand, Manhatta (1920/21): 10:45 a.m., 2:00 p.m. Louis Faurer, Time Capsule (1960s): 11:00 a.m., 2:15 p.m. Weegee, Weegee’s New York (1948): 11:15 a.m., 2:30 p.m. Helen Levitt, In the Street (1952): 11:40 a.m., 2:55 p.m. Morris Engel, Little Fugitive (1953): 12:00 p.m., 3:15 p.m. Robert Frank, Pull My Daisy (1959): 1:30 p.m., 4:40 p.m.
Film and Photo in New Yorkis organized by the Art Institute of Chicago. This exhibition is generously supported by Mrs. Robert O. Levitt. Additional support is provided by the Phillip and Edith Leonian Foundation.
24 min 30 sec ago The Art Institute of Chicago NOW ON VIEW—In 1963 Melvin Edwards began Lynch Fragments, a series of welded steel assemblages made in response to the tumultuous social climate of the Civil Rights movement. The title of the series evokes the horrifying images of racist mob violence, yet Edwards’s works distill the subject into a powerful sculptural language, fusing modernist abstraction with a sense of personal and collective history.
Afrophoenix No. 1—one of the earliest objects from the series—exemplifies how the artist physically transformed found objects and brought them together in poetically suggestive, tension-filled compositions. Here the formal arrangement of steel elements evokes an equestrian bridle and bit. Chains, hammers, nails, spikes, and screws magnify the sculpture’s associative power, recalling implements of labor and torture. At the same the title references the mythological phoenix—alluding to death, rebirth, and transformation.
See Afrophoenix No. 1 (1963) by Melvin Edwards in Gallery 289D.
4 hours 49 min ago The Art Institute of Chicago CLOSING SOON—Modern Velvet: A Sense of Luxury in the Age of Industry
With their plush, inviting, and varied textures, the velvets featured in this exhibition showcase the diversity of modern velvet as well as the effects of industry on its production. As industrial innovations at the turn of the 19th century allowed for faster production and encouraged the use of less costly materials, designers and manufacturers of velvet sought to maintain its association with wealth, luxury, and splendor.
Learn how this elegant fabric has inspired designers for centuries, with a wide range of examples from the 19th century to present day—closing March 19.
15 hours 49 min ago The Art Institute of Chicago Just like the museum's collection comes from artists around the world, so does the Museum Shop’s assortment of products. We source exclusive products from artisans that are inspired by the cultures, mediums, and techniques represented in our museum collection. View our assortment of unique items from India.