Bayly Art Museum

University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA



Forever in Search: Urban Street Photography in the Twentieth Century


Through September 19, 1999 the Bayly Art Museum of the University of Virginia, in Charlottesville, will present the special exhibition Forever in Search: Urban Street Photography in the Twentieth Century. Selected primarily from the Museum's collection, the thirty-three photographs in the exhibition include works by Garry Winogrand, Ralph Gibson, Edouard Boubat, Helen Levitt, Barbara Morgan, Andre Kertsz and William Klein, among others. The exhibition was organized by Stephen Margulies, curator of works on paper.

"At least since the time of Eugene Atget in the early twentieth century, " says Margulies, "many of our greatest photographers have been obsessed with the pageant - 'the bliss and sorrow' (Walt Whitman) - of urban scenes. In the streets of the city, reality seems to constantly and even wildly reinvent itself. The scary or life-affirming inventiveness of modernity is best encountered there. "

The title for the exhibition comes from a passage in an essay by poet and art critic Charles Baudelaire, which refers to the artist as a stroller (flaneur) along the streets of the city "forever in search" of modernity, "of all the elements that compose life . . . in the tumult of human liberty. "

The photographers in the exhibition, notes Margulies, have found, in Baudelaire's words, "energies more vivid than life itself...." For example, Atget, who mostly documented mysteriously deserted streets in Paris, gives evidence of the street's power - in this case, the street's power for loneliness. In the work of Klein and others the signs and advertisements, shop windows and even power lines along the streets have the presence of a subconscious world come to concrete life. With the inclusion of works by Andrew Glickman, this outdoor pageant takes on new life in a modern shopping mall.

Images from top to bottom: Andrew Savulich, "External, Internal: Bicycle Messenger after Being Attacked by Motorists; Drug Overdose Being Asked if He'd Like to Go to Hospital," 1987/1981; gelatin silver print, Museum purchase with support from the FUNd; Lee Friedlander (American, born 1934), "Stamford, Connecticut, 1973," silver gelatin print, 11 x 14 inches. Museum Purchase.

Read more in Resource Library Magazine about the Bayly Art Museum.

For further biographical information on selected artists cited in this article please see America's Distinguished Artists, a national registry of historic artists.

rev. 10/18/10

Search Resource Library for thousands of articles and essays on American art.

Copyright 2010 Traditional Fine Arts Organization, Inc., an Arizona nonprofit corporation. All rights reserved.