Friday, February 19, 2016

Light and Shadows in the Thirties

Boy Scouts crowd photographThe boys sit in rows, their knobby knees emerging from beneath their shorts as they wait further instructions. This photograph from the 1930s speaks to the power of youth organizations, and it comes from the 1939 brochure America's Answer. The Boy Scouts were America's Answer to fascist and communist youth organizations, instilling American boys with a correct sense of patriotism. However, the Americans weren't the only ones creating propagandistic photographic books.

The second photograph in this blog post comes from a series of pamphlets published by anti-fascists in Barcelona during the Spanish Civil War (1946-1939). It's a rallying cry against fascist brutality, featuring two slain fighters. The image is a memento of its time, when both automobiles and horses cruised the streets of Barcelona. These are just two images from our latest exhibition, Light and Shadows in the Thirties, which presents the wide variety of photographic books during the 1930s.

Rocked by the economic crisis of the Great Depression, nations questioned previous orthodoxies and experimented with new systems, often selling their solutions or sentimentalizing their problems using the power of the photograph. Light and Shadows in the Thirties presents these photographic books as a vital medium in this turbulent and pivotal decade.

Spanish Civil War battle
The exhibit was curated by Bay Lauris ByrneSim and will be on display in the Class of 1965 Galleries from February 16 to March 30, 2016.

The books featured in this post are: America's Answer. New York: Boy Scouts of America, 1939.  Rare Book HS3313.B69 1939. Visions de guerra i de reraguarda, Serie A. Barcelona: Editorial Forja, 1937. Rare Book DP269.15 .V57  v.1-8 Ap.1937-Oct.1937.

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