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The Family of Man

2019-05-08 来源: 51due教员组 类别: 更多范文

下面为大家整理一篇优秀的assignment代写范文- The Family of Man,供大家参考学习,这篇论文讨论了摄影展《人类大家庭》。《人类大家庭》是一位伟大的摄影师组织的一次伟大的摄影展览。它的人文摄影收藏扩展到最大的规模,涵盖了出生、成年、婚姻、战争和死亡的各个方面。与此同时,展览也促进了摄影作为一种有影响力的视觉艺术形式的传播,让摄影不再仅仅是一种记录的行为。相反,它成为了一种社会实践,能够达到比单一照片更大的作用。

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The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) has contributed greatly on making photography an important piece of western art history. As the authoritative institution that is respected worldwide, MoMA has evolved from an exhibition holder that is open to the public, to a shaping factor in academic, art and cultural values. As one of the mile-stone photography exhibitions in the history of MoMA and photography itself, The Family of Man at MoMA in 1955 has made profound influences in the landscape of medium and culture. The curator of this exhibition, Edward Steichen, was originally from Luxemburg. Having moved to the United States with his parents at the age of 2, Steichen started his passion for photography and creative art since the age of 16. As the planner of The Family of Man, Steichen was a great photographer himself. He had been a photographer for 78 years of his life, which is a demonstration of the development of photography in the 20th century (MoMA, 2017).

Having lived through two world wars over the 94 years of his life, Edward Steichen had an enormous range of interest and experiences, which enabled him to conceive an exhibition to tackle the themes that are bigger than most of the other photography exhibitions. The types of photos made by Steichen covered portraits, landscapes, social news, advertisements etc. Steichen was an aerial photographer during WWI, which set the foundation for his aesthetics and techniques later. Despite the age of 63, Steichen still volunteered to join the army leading over four thousand wartime photographers, which further made him a legend in the history of photography. The Family of Man was held in the year of 1955, as the most important part of Steichen’s career. Ever since the exhibition came out in New York, it became an instant. The popularity even pushed the exhibition abroad to 37 countries and regions over the world in six continents over the next 8 years, further expanding the influence of the exhibition.

Although the photos used in The Family of Man were under the same theme, they were not from a single or a group of famous artists. Instead, Steichen selected 503 photographs taken by 273 male and female photographers from different countries of the world. The 503 photos were selected from around 2 million pictures, which include the works of many amateur photographers as well (Jay, 1989). The combination of great photographer names and unknown amateurs were not common for famous institutions like MoMA. Nevertheless, the exhibition met with great success. In fact, the cleverness of such an approach in resourcing matches with the complexity and comprehensiveness of the theme itself: in order to demonstration all aspects of the man and the family, an exhibition would need as much variation of perspective as possible. Just as the documentary Life in A Day, in which the director gathered pieces of videos from different corners of the world as much as he could, which were then converged under one topic: humans. Despite the tedious process of choice-making, the right selection was the key to making the exhibition work, and Steichen had both the expertise and the precise sense of aesthetics to do the job.

The works of a total of 273 photographers were used by The Family of Man. These photographers were from 68 countries with different backgrounds. Among the 273 photographers, 163 were Americans and 70 were from Europe (Jay, 1989). This has limited the perspective of the exhibition to the western point of view. However, this should not be criticized too much given the limitedness of the time. The collection process was made with a public letter to the photographers of the world, titled “A Summons to Photographers All Over the World.” in addition to the submissions, which accounted for over 20% of the final photos, Steichen himself also travelled extensively in Europe to collect images. Most of the photographers were not big names in the field, nor did they know other photographers included in the exhibition. While there was little that connect most of them except for the exhibition, all of them demonstrated the passion of humanistic photography and made great photos out of their passion. Since most of the photos were obtained through submission and personal contact, it is obvious that most of the photographers were alive during the time of the exhibition. Later, it took Steichen and his assistants over two years to select the photos out of the huge pile of choices.

Centered around the theme of “man”, The Family of Man has shown how humans lead different lives in the family of the world. The entirety of lives was shown, from the birth of an infant, to the growth, maturing, aging and finally death (MoMA, 2017). Different photos showed people with different nationality and ethnicity lived their lives, so that humans could become a more connected family on planet earth, by knowing more about different family members. The exhibition has overall demonstrated the idea of the equality of men, through the honest documentation of the natural way of life. Meanwhile, the combination of documentations grants it strong signals of emotion, expressed in the most comprehensible language of all humans. The year of 1955 was ten years after the termination of WWII, one of the most devastating wars in human history. While the whole world was still healing from the losses of the war, the shadow of the Cold War was hovering over the Americans and the rest of the world. The exhibition suited the need of the people to see the hope of humanism, or humanitarianism. By looking at how people with completely different languages and cultures pieced together “man” and “culture/life”, people were able to feel spiritually connected and sense the beauty of life. The arrangement of photos has influenced later exhibitions of the 20th century. People were increasingly encouraged to escape from the two-dimensional way of designing an exhibition. Instead, increasingly immersive 3D spaces were invented so that the audience would feel more realistic and personal in the exhibitions.

In addition to the precision and the capture of the theme, the design of the exhibition was also exceptional. From many of the photos taken from the exhibition, The Family of Man did not abide by the existing rules of museums, galleries or exhibitions, which laid framed photos of the same size on the walls like windows. Instead, the uniqueness and character of each photo was kept. People may be surprised by the dramatic size difference between photos, but in the same time the sizes served a purpose. While some of the photos were the size of postcards, others took the size of entire walls (Priem & Thyssen, 2013). Some of the smaller-sized photos were designed so that people would stand much closer to them, like reading a diary, which created a much more personal experience than the larger photos. In comparison, the larger photos created an immersive experience for the audience, so that the scenes in the photos are better recreated. The position of the photos also differentiated The Family of Man from other exhibitions. Some of the photos were put at the corners, while others hang in the air from the ceiling. Photos from different directions with different sizes surrounded the viewer, so that the viewers need to be mobilized at all times. By walking around in the exhibition and looking up and down at differently positioned photos, the exhibition became an experience for the audience themselves.

One of the distinguished figures of The Family of Man was the feature of portrait of people from different parts of the world. There is nothing more illustrative of the theme than photos of different portraits that were the size of real men (Priem & Thyssen, 2013). While humanitarianism isolated suffering from the world, making it disconnected, humanism photography remained hopeful about the world. From the exhibition, a strong belief was demonstration, that humans would be able to rise from the suffering and disasters to be stronger than before. The Family of Man was a successful attempt pf generalization of men with a common visual language. The majority of the viewers loved the exhibition, which means that the idea of a universal visual language was working. When the society was desperate for some sentiment feeling about humanity after the wars, The Family of Man offered people exactly what they needed: the conform of the connectedness of men as a family. Viewing the different societies and the peoples in them, people couldn’t help but feel a sense of familiarity. Although these people may have lived different ways from the viewers, they were still able to connect to them personally and emotionally. The criticism was almost concurrent with the praises, with some being skeptical that the exhibition was an attempt to hide the US ambitions under the disguise of humanism (Turner, 2012).

Despite its profound influences, the focus of the exhibition on the human lives was considered superficial by some criticism over time. The attention to how people lived made the action of photography a simple-minded illustration of ideas without the depth of judgement. While the Family of Man was considered a representative humanistic photography exhibition, it showed conflicting ideas with the lack of in-depth thoughts about the theme of man. As an exhibition touring around the world, the content of the exhibition, to some critics, was only the documentation of human actions. The theme of human and the connectedness of “family” was not adequately justified by the content. Moreover, there was a lack of meaningful thoughts about society and a truly thoughtful structuring of the presentation of photos. Instead, the emotional features of the exhibition were improperly amplified, so that people would overlook the lack of depth. The criticism made some sense, since the real message of the exhibition remained ambiguous. However, this should not diminish the importance and triumph of pure expressionism demonstrated by it. One of the most direct function of photography is to provoking feelings from its viewers. Apparently, The Family of Man has successfully done so, which leaves people a much higher degree of freedom to imagine and interpret based upon it.

The Family of Man has inspired creative works of many artists after they saw the exhibition. For example, the song of the same title by Karl Dallas was made to sing about the same theme: the human as a family and the importance of a universal language. There were also several other exhibitions that focused on similar themes with added ideas after The Family of Man. From form, concept to theme, The Family of Man inspired later exhibitions in several different aspects. For example, the World Exhibition of Photography that was supported by a magazine from Germany, used similar collection processes as The Family of Men, gathering hundreds of photos globally under the same theme. The organizer of this exhibition, Karl Pawek, has expressed his appreciation of the works of Steichen explicitly in one of his articles (Pawek, 964). With the collection of the exhibition photos published many years later, the influence of the exhibition extends even to the present day. In conclusion, The Family of Man was a great exhibition organized by one of the greatest photographers of all times. It has a collection of humanistic photography expanded to the greatest scales, covering the aspects of birth, adulthood, marriage, wars and deaths. Meanwhile, the exhibition has also promoted the spread of photography as an influential form of visual art. Photography was no longer an act of documentation only. Instead, it became a social practice and was able to serve purposes that were greater than single photos.

Works Cited

Jay, B. (1989) "The Family of Man: A Reappraisal of 'The Greatest Exhibition of All Time'. Insight, Bristol Workshops in Photography, Rhode Island, Number 1, 1989.

MoMA (2017). The Family of Man, January 24–May 8, 1955. The Museum of Modern Art. Retrieved from: https://www.moma.org/calendar/exhibitions/2429

Pawek, K. (1964). The Language of Photography: The Methods of this Exhibition. In World Exhibition of Photography

Priem, K., & Thyssen, G. (2013). Puppets on a String in a Theatre of Display? Interactions of Image, Text, Material, Space and Motion in The Family of Man (ca. 1950s-1960s). Paedagogica Historica, 49(6), 828-845.

Turner, F. (2012). The Family of Man and the Politics of Attention in Cold War America. Public Culture, 24(1_66), 55-84. doi:10.1215/08992363-1443556

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