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On the Collections homepage, you can choose to view a selection of objects illustrating particular themes, aspects of the collection, highlights of a particular time period or curators' choices. You can name these groupings in order to indicate clearly the type of works or themes that the collection illustrates. The groupings are listed as a series of links under "Collections" in the main navigation bar to the left.

The 60,000-piece Texas African American Photography (TAAP) Archive is the centerpiece of Documentary Arts gift to the ICP in 2014 of more than 100,000 photographs, films, videos, and audio recordings. The TAAP Archive focuses primarily on the work of twentieth-century African American community photographers active in rural and urban Texas.

Documentary Arts was founded in 1985 by Alan Govenar to present new perspectives on historical issues and diverse cultures. Over the years, Documentary Arts’ collaborations with major institutions including the National Endowment for the Arts, ICP (New York), African American Museum (Dallas), FARO (Brussels), Maison des Cultures du Monde (Paris) and UNESCO (Nairobi) have highlighted little-known practitioners of cultural forms via photography, films and videos, audio recordings, oral histories, exhibitions, public programs, new technologies, and collections of material culture.

The TAAP Archive, founded by Govenar and Kaleta Doolin, focuses on the growth and development of vernacular and community photography among African Americans in Texas, including Alonzo Jordan, Louise Martin, Marion Butts, Elnora Frazier, Curtis Humphrey, Juanita Williams, Benny Joseph, and A.C. Teal, among others. The material in the Archive elucidates the context of social gatherings, including weddings, funerals, Juneteenth parades, church services, school and college graduations, neighborhood businesses, and day-to-day activities in African American communities around the state. In addition, the images chronicle social protests and political demonstrations. The Archive features work by identified photographers from around the state as well as photographs, tintypes, and other early prints by unidentified picture makers that were found in Texas African American communities.

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Images that seem to encapsulate individual human identities, from nineteenth-century daguerreotypes to twenty-first-century selfies, have dominated the medium of photography. Portraits shape the ways we understand each other and ourselves. Many crucial aspects of modern political, economic, social, and cultural life are constituted through, not simply documented by, pictures like the ones in this exhibition.
The ubiquity and relative affordability of photography have drastically expanded access to self-representation. Commissioned portraits let sitters determine how they are seen, as well as fundamentally affirm their existence and significance. But all images of people raise issues about power and agency. What are the relationships between the photographer, the person being photographed, and the intended audience for the image? What happens when a subject loses control over his or her representation because of the context in which it is presented?
Drawn from ICP’s permanent collection, these photographs explore the ways in which portraits have been made and used from the nineteenth century to the present. Occupational and family portraits record a sitter’s relationship within a group. Celebrities and self-portraitists often exert the most control over their representations. In many images of war and social change, photographers choose subjects that reinforce their views. In collaborative portraits, people find ways to represent themselves as they wish to be seen, either in the studio or by seizing the moment through direct interaction with the photographer. Although the deceased have no say in their final representations, photographers have generally created dignified images that memorialize the dead and play a role in grieving. While each portrait serves a different purpose, each offers the opportunity to investigate the ways in which photography shapes our ideas about individual and collective identities. - Erin Barnett and Claartje van Dijk
In many ways, the Lower East Side is both quintessentially American and uniquely New York. Always changing, it has been one of the most densely populated, multiethnic, and modern places in the country. While late nineteenth-century social reformers attempted to show middle- and upper-class New Yorkers “how the other half lives,” later photographers had a different, and often more personal, relationship with the neighborhood. In fact, many of the social documenatrians and street photographers of the 1930s and 1940s were first-generation Americans born on the Lower East Side, who created sensitive and nuanced portraits of their neighbors and shared environment. This exhibition, which primarily draws from ICP’s rich holdings of mid-twentieth-century works, examines the role images play in creating narratives about this first port of entry for generations of immigrants. As a newcomer to the neighborhood, ICP is committed to engaging with the many visual histories of the dynamic place that has been seen as ripe for reform and reinvention for more than a hundred years.
This rotating selection highlights recent acquisitons to ICP's Photograph Collection.
Through ICP's Acquistions Committee and generous donors, the museum continues to acquire works by notable contemporary artists. This is a small selection from among the holdings.
Home can be thought of as a refuge but in this time of uncertainty home has simultaneously become the locus of safety and the focus of the trauma of isolation from which we yearn to escape. The word 'trauma' originally referred to physical wounds but has since evolved to include injuries on the mind and the self that may seem invisible but are imprints logged in our memory storage. As we live through this challenging time, we can analyze the idea of trauma through a different lens and reflect on the concept of nostalgia--itself symptomatic of a particular kind of trauma related to the notion of home. The word ‘nostalgia’ was coined from the Greek words nóstos, meaning "homecoming", and álgos, referring to pangs of acute pain in the 17th century to describe a pathological anxiety experienced by soldiers longing to return to the safety of their homes. This selection of prints is the photographer Duane Michals’s creative, personal, and poetic examination of his relation to home.
Capa in Color presents Robert Capa’s color work for the first time. Capa regularly used color film from the 1940s until his death in 1954. Some of these photographs were published in magazines of the day, but the majority have never been printed, seen, or even studied. Over the years, this aspect of Capa’s career has virtually been forgotten. With over 150 contemporary color prints by the famous photojournalist, Capa in Color presents this work as an integral part of his postwar career and fundamental in remaining relevant to magazines. Drawn entirely from ICP’s collection, including contextual publications and personal papers, the exhibition presents a fascinating new look at this master of black-and-white photography during his centennial year. This exhibition is organized by ICP Curator Cynthia Young.

Selected images from the Robert Capa and Cornell Capa Archive illuminate Capa's working process on six seminal photo essays covering the Spanish Civil War, China, and World War II between 1936 and 1945.

In her brief but dramatic career, Gerda Taro (1910-1937) made some of the most striking photographs to come from the front lines of the Spanish Civil War. The following selections, drawn from ICP's collection, are also included in the first full-scale retrospective.

The Mexican Suitcase will for the first time give the public an opportunity to experience images drawn from this famous collection of recovered negatives. In December 2007, three boxes filled with rolls of film, containing 4,500 35mm negatives of the Spanish Civil War by Robert Capa, Gerda Taro, and Chim (David Seymour)-which had been considered lost since 1939-arrived at the International Center of Photography. These three photographers, who lived in Paris, worked in Spain, and published internationally, laid the foundation for modern war photography. Their work has long been considered some of the most innovative and passionate coverage of the Spanish Civil War (1936-39). Many of the contact sheets made from the negatives will be on view as part of the exhibition, which will look closely at some of the major stories by Capa, Taro, and Chim as interpreted through the individual frames. These images will be seen alongside the magazines of the period in which they were published and with the photographers' own contact notebooks. The exhibition is organized by ICP assistant curator Cynthia Young.

Photographs by Cornell Capa, 1918-2008

Cornell Capa, who founded ICP in 1974, coined the term "concerned photographer." His own photographs throughout his lifetime remained true to that mission.

JFK for President presents Cornell Capa's photographs of John F. Kennedy’s 1960 campaign and the early days of his administration. The exhibition includes many unpublished color and black-and-white photographs as well as classics first published in LIFE magazine and in the book Let Us Begin: The First 100 Days of the Kennedy Administration.
This exhibition was on view at ICP from September 17 through November 28, 2004.

The catalog of this exhibition is available from the ICP Museum Store.
Cornell Capa (1918-2008) chose the phrase "concerned photographer" to describe those photographers who demonstrated in their work a humanitarian impulse to use pictures to educate and change the world, not just to record it. During a long and distinguished career as a photographer, Capa worked for Life magazine from 1946 to 1967, and for the Magnum Photos agency beginning in 1954, covering social and political issues in the United States, as well as England, the Soviet Union, Israel, and Central and South America. While he created some iconic individual images, Capa more fully established his own specific areas of concern regarding politics and social issues with incisive and important photo-essays. Included in the show are his stories on the reform government of President Arbenz in Guatemala (1953); the collapse of Juan Perón's dictatorial regime in Argentina (1955); political dissidents arrested after the assassination of Nicaraguan dictator, Anastasio Somoza (1956); the work of missionaries in Ecuador (1956-58); the plight of indigenous tribes in the north-east of Peru (1961); a significant reportage on conditions at Attica (1972) following the bloody prison uprising; the 1964 senate race of Robert Kennedy; and an analysis of poverty and population in El Salvador and Honduras (1970-73). This exhibition looks at these pioneering stories and serves as a tribute to Capa as photographer and Founding Director of ICP.

Media File
Cornell Capa (1918-2008) chose the phrase "concerned photographer" to describe those photographers who demonstrated in their work a humanitarian impulse to use pictures to educate and change the world, not just to record it. During a long and distinguished career as a photographer, Capa worked for Life magazine from 1946 to 1967, and for the Magnum Photos agency beginning in 1954, covering social and political issues in the United States, as well as England, the Soviet Union, Israel, and Central and South America. While he created some iconic individual images, Capa more fully established his own specific areas of concern regarding politics and social issues with incisive and important photo-essays. Included in the show are his stories on the reform government of President Arbenz in Guatemala (1953); the collapse of Juan Perón's dictatorial regime in Argentina (1955); political dissidents arrested after the assassination of Nicaraguan dictator, Anastasio Somoza (1956); the work of missionaries in Ecuador (1956-58); the plight of indigenous tribes in the north-east of Peru (1961); a significant reportage on conditions at Attica (1972) following the bloody prison uprising; the 1964 senate race of Robert Kennedy; and an analysis of poverty and population in El Salvador and Honduras (1970-73). This exhibition looks at these pioneering stories and serves as a tribute to Capa as photographer and Founding Director of ICP.

The Daniel Cowin Collection of African American History was given to ICP by Daniel Cowin in 1990. The collection of about 1,600 photographs, including several albums and dating from 1860 to 1960, offers a glimpse into the rarely seen everyday lives of African Americans in a variety of genres and poses: formal studio portraits, casual snapshots, images of children, images of uniformed soldiers, wedding portraits, and "Southern-views" made for tourist consumption. While some of the sitters are celebrities of the day, the majority are unnamed Americans simply posing for their portraits.

The catalog of the exhibition is available from the ICP Museum Store.

When President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, Texas, on November 22, 1963, the event and its aftermath were broadcast to a stunned nation through photography and television. Reporters used dramatic spot news photographs by professional photojournalists as well as snapshots by unsuspecting witnesses to explain the events: the shooting of the president, the hunt for the assassin, the swearing in of the new president, the widow's grief, the funeral, the shooting of Oswald. Viewers interpreted these photographs in various ways: to comprehend the shocking news, to negotiate their grief, to attempt to solve the crime. The combination of personal photographs assuming public significance and subjective interpretations of news images disrupted conventional views of photography as fact or evidence. JFK November 22, 1963: A Bystander's View of History examines the imaginative reception of these iconic photographs. The exhibition includes stills from Abraham Zapruder's famous footage of the assassination, as well as news photographs, snapshots by bystanders, souvenirs, and scrapbooks. Organized by ICP Chief Curator Brian Wallis on the fiftieth anniversary of the tragedy, these visual artifacts demonstrate the active role of photography in negotiating trauma and facilitating mourning.

Brett Weston (1911–1993) is widely regarded as one of the leading photographers of the twentieth century. Known primarily for his bold compositions and his extraordinary printing style, Weston was among a small group of California photographers in the 1930s. Group f/64, who favored large-format view cameras, straight and uncropped images, and stark black-and-white prints, often contact printed. This group included Ansel Adams and Brett Weston’s father, Edward Weston. But Brett Weston's style became even more radical when he was drafted into the army during World War II, and, in 1944, sent to the Army Pictorial Center in New York. There, in addition to routine Army work, Weston explored the streets of New York with his large 8x10 view camera. Over the next two years, Weston took over 300 photographs, each distinguished by an attention to the formal values of linearity, depth, and contrast. Turning away from the documentary style that characterized much of the photography of New York in the preceding decade, notably Berenice Abbott's project "Changing New York”" (1939), Weston pioneered a highly subjective and abstract view of the city, often focusing on details such as the finial on an iron railing or ivy on the side of a building. Weston flattened and abstracted the deep space of the New York cityscape creating rich, two-dimensional black-and-white images. This approach would govern the most prolific period of Weston's work in the late 1940s and 1950s, when he utilized this highly polished style to photograph Western dunes, beaches, rocks, and vegetation.

This exhibition, a collaboration between the International Center of Photography, the Brett Weston Archive, and the host Gallery of the America includes over 100 photographs, drawn largely from the ICP collection. It is organized by Brian Wallis, Chief Curator at the International Center of Photography, and Julie Maguire, Director of the Brett Weston Archive.

In honor of its Ehrenkranz Director Willis Hartshorn, the International Center of Photography presents an engaging survey of its vast and unique collection of photographs. Founded in 1975, as part of the original concept for the Center, the photograph collection at ICP now contains well over 100,000 photographs, ranging from the 1840s to the present. This provocative selection by ICP Chief Curator Brian Wallis is an investigation of the aesthetics and uses of photographic images, and includes well-loved classics as well as little-known works by anonymous photographers. One of the hallmarks of the collection is a focus on alternative histories of photography, including marginalized social practices of photography as well as popular and nonart approaches to the medium. Eugène Atget, W. Eugene Smith, Cindy Sherman, Walker Evans, and André Kertész are among the photographers included in this wide-ranging exhibition.

This featured selection includes 135 images by noted photographers across a broad range of subjects. It is based on works selected for the ICP 25th anniversary publication.

Reflections in a Glass Eye is available from the ICP Museum Store.

For an intense decade between 1935 and 1946, Weegee (1899–1968) was one of the most relentlessly inventive figures in American photography. His graphically dramatic and often lurid photographs of New York crimes and news events set the standard for what has become known as tabloid journalism. Freelancing for a variety of New York newspapers and photo agencies, and later working as a stringer for the short-lived liberal daily PM (1940–48), Weegee established a way of combining photographs and texts that was distinctly different from that promoted by other picture magazines, such as LIFE. Utilizing other distribution venues, Weegee also wrote extensively (including his autobiographical Naked City, published in 1945) and organized his own exhibitions at the Photo League. This exhibition draws upon the extensive Weegee Archive at ICP and includes environmental recreations of Weegee's apartment and exhibitions. The exhibition is organized by ICP Chief Curator Brian Wallis.

Despite his sometimes comic persona, Weegee (1899-1968) made his mark as a documentary photographer. His photojournalistic images from the 1930s and 40s demonstrated an uncanny ability to see drama in the everyday life of New York City residents--the reaction of a criminal, the confidence of a diamond-clad socialite, and the exuberance of packed masses at Coney Island on a hot summer day. It was these images that brought him lasting fame. But he did not only take the sensational front-page images. He also probed the New York City social landscape, addressing racial tensions, social stratifications, war-time rations, and Hollywood-infected notions of glamour. Weegee spent twenty years documenting the city and its inhabitants, from the 1930s Depression to the anxious postwar years. Within the constraints of a working photojournalist, Weegee was able to cultivate a distinctive humanist style and a vision of the city that was unapologetically his own.

Weegee with his Speed Grafic camera<br>ICP 167.1982
The Weegee archive was bequeathed to ICP in 1993. Weegee (1899-1968) is best known for his tabloid news photographs of urban crowds, crime scenes, and New York City nightlife of the 1930s and 1940s. He later dedicated himself to what he called "creative photography"-images made through distorting lenses and other optical effects. The Weegee Archive contains 20,000 original prints and negatives, tear sheets, manuscript drafts, correspondence, and other personal memorabilia. It is the world's largest holding of Weegee's work.

From 1934 to 1939, Roman Vishniac explored on foot the cities and villages of eastern Europe, recording life in the Jewish shtetlekh (villages) of Germany, Poland, Romania, Hungary, Russia, Ukraine, Latvia and Lithuania – communities that even then seemed threatened by routine change as much as by the Holocaust that would come.

This Is Not a Fashion Photograph, organized by guest curator Vince Aletti, is an exhibition drawn largely from the permanent collection of ICP that looks at the non-fashion sources of contemporary fashion photography. Because many young fashion photographers are more interested in authenticity than artifice, they are looking closely at work by Weegee, Lisette Model, André Kertész, and Danny Lyon. It may not have been the intention of these photographers to make fashion images, but their work touches on style as a means of personal expression. With photographs by Gordon Parks, Bruce Davidson, Walker Evans, Samuel Fosso, Doris Ulmann, Mark Cohen, Marc Riboud, Robert Mapplethorpe, Ben Shahn, and others.

In 1944, the war-battered French couture industry decided to revive its international reputation by conceiving a small exhibition entitled Théâtre de la Mode. The exhibition organizer enlisted the major fashion designers of the day, including Jeanne Lanvin, Lucien Lelong, Elsa Schiaparelli, and Pierre Balmain to create outfits for small wire-frame dolls just over two feet tall.

The exhibition of over 230 dolls, displayed in artist-designed sets, opened in Paris on March 27, 1945 at the Museum of Decorative Arts. It was an instant sensation, and traveled to London, Barcelona, Copenhagen, Stockholm, Vienna, New York, and San Francisco. With the return of the French fashion industry, the dolls had completed their work and were donated to the Maryhill Museum near Portland, Oregon, where they disappeared from view.

Under an extraordinary set of circumstances in 1990, the dolls were rediscovered and returned to Paris, recoiffed and restyled for an exhibition at the Musée de la Mode. Because of his pioneering work with French fashion and historical gowns, David Seidner was asked to photograph the little dolls. Working in the rough interior of an abandoned theatre set, Seidner captured the essence of French style in dolls dressed in designs made on the eve of Christian Dior's New Look, which radically changed fashion in 1947. ICP exhibits fifteen of Seidner's color photographs from the David Seidner Archive in the Permanent Collection, along with one of the original dolls.

This exhibition was organized by Cynthia Young, Curator of the Robert and Cornell Capa Archive.

David Seidner (1957-1999) was a fashion and portrait photographer known for his stylized images inspired by historical paintings and sculptures. He rose to prominence with images that visually cut up couture designed by Azzedine Alaia, Chanel, Mme. Grès, Jean Patou, Ungaro, Valentino, and Yves Saint Laurent and collaged them together through multiple exposures or reflections in pieces of mirror. Seidner published these images in Harper's Bazaar, Harper's & Queen, The New York Times Magazine, Vanity Fair, and international editions of Vogue in the 1980s and 90s, greatly influencing fashion photography for over a decade. In addition to his advertising and editorial fashion work, Seidner also pursued other projects dealing with portraiture, clothing, the body, and the history of art. This selection, drawn from the David Seidner Archive of over 2,000 prints, includes highlights from Seidner's major projects and series.

Some of the best-known documentary photographs came out of the photographic divisions of two government agencies, established in response to the Depression: the Resettlement Administration (1935 - 1937) and the Farm Security Administration (1937 - 1942). These agencies employed a number of photographers whose work would become an extensive archive of rural America and the effects of government programs created to lessen the impact of poverty. The permanent collection at ICP contains photographs that Theodor Jung, Dorothea Lange, Carl Mydans, Arthur Rothstein, and Ben Shahn took around the country while employed by the RA and FSA.

View the finding aid for this collection.

In 2005 ICP received a donation of over 1,000 prints from the The Time Picture Collection, Inc.. This body of work has greatly augmented the collection's holdings of diverse photojournalism. This selection represents a small sample of this major collection.

All Rights Reserved, © Time Inc.

Time Picture Collection

Among the most compelling and heart-rending photographs ever taken of warfare are those made by W. Eugene Smith during World War II. On assignment from Ziff-Davis and LIFE magazine, Smith (1918–1978) covered the Pacific theater from 1943 to 1945. After serving on the carrier U.S.S. Bunker Hill, Smith participated in numerous allied landings, including Guam, Tarawa, Saipan, Leyte, Iwo Jima, and Okinawa, where he was severely wounded in May 1945.

In 1983, at the height of the civil war in El Salvador, thirty international photojournalists covering the conflict contributed to a project to raise awareness about the crisis. Photographers Susan Meiselas and Harry Mattison, who collected the work for a book and traveling exhibition, believed that these images, if more widely seen, could facilitate a deeper understanding of the situation in El Salvador and prompt a crucial dialogue about the conflict and America's role in it.

ICP's collection of work by Magnum photographer, Chim (David Seymour) includes about 1,000 items. This selection of 250 will be augmented over time. See also: ICP's site on Chim's work originally prepared in 1998 and an extended biographical web site which launched in 1999.

Hungarian photographer Martin Munkacsi (1896–1963) created dynamic and elegant images of models and athletes in motion. His unique style—inspiring photographers from Henri Cartier-Bresson to Richard Avedon—grew out of the context of 1930s photojournalism and required a combination of split-second timing and radical cropping. For Munkacsi, process was key. The recent rediscovery of his long-lost negative archive helps to clarify his working methods and uncover the secrets behind his most famous images.

This presentation of thirty-one vintage prints by the celebrated French photographer Eugène Atget (1857–1927) is drawn from the ICP permanent collection. Surrealists such as Man Ray were fascinated by Atget's images of dreamlike urban spaces. As this selection reveals, such photographs were part of a much larger body of work that reflected Atget's systematic documentation of the historic streets, buildings, and artifacts of Old Paris.
This exhibition was organized by ICP Curator Christopher Phillips.

In advance of the presentation of Between Past and Future: New Photography and Video from China, ICP acquired a number of major works for the collection.
Exhibition website

For over twenty years, Donna Ferrato has been documenting the effects of domestic violence on abused women and their children. Photographing in emergency rooms and shelters, courtrooms and activist rallies, batterers' groups and women's detention centers, Ferrato aims to expose "the dark side of family life." Collected in the exhibition and publication "Living with the Enemy" (Aperture, 1991), these groundbreaking pictures are paired with texts by the photographer drawn from her conversations with the victims and perpetrators of abuse. In addition to a selection of prints from "Living with the Enemy," ICP also maintains an extensive archive of Ferrato's own research materials related to domestic violence as well as to the genesis of this ambitious and ongoing photographic project.

In 1987, during the early years of the AIDS crisis, a group of New York artists and activists formed ACT UP (the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power) to raise awareness about the growing epidemic. ACT UP, and later Gran Fury and other groups, made visually striking posters, pamphlets, stickers, and T-shirts that challenged the slow response by the U.S. government and others to the rapidly spreading disease. Many of these printed materials utilized photography and photomontage, and most were created for specific media events or demonstrations. The collection of AIDS material maintained at ICP includes many of the key pieces made by members of ACT UP during the late 1980s and early 1990s, as well as art produced by other activist collectives. Significantly, the collection also includes photographs that show how the posters and other materials were used in demonstrations.

In spring 2005, the ICP Acquisitions Committee supported the purchase of sixty-three John Heartfield photomontages published in the German illustrated newspapers Arbeiter Illustrierte Zeitung and Volks Illustriete from 1930 to 1937.

After the United States detonated an atomic bomb at Hiroshima on August 6, 1945, the U.S. government restricted the circulation of images of the bomb's deadly effect. President Truman dispatched some 1,150 military personnel and civilians, including photographers, to record the destruction as part of the United States Strategic Bombing Survey. The goal of the Survey's Physical Damage Division was to photograph and analyze methodically the impact of the atomic bomb on various building materials surrounding the blast site, designated "Ground Zero." The haunting, once-classified images of absence and annihilation formed the basis for civil defense architecture in the United States. This exhibition includes 62 prints drawn from a unique archive of more than 700 photographs in the collection of the International Center of Photography. The exhibition is organized Erin Barnett, Assistant Curator of Collections.

For additional information about the United States Strategic Bombing Survey, please visit the National Archives.

Since September 11, 2001, the International Center of Photography has maintained the September 11 Archive, a collection of photographic materials related to the events of that day. The archive of over fifteen hundred objects includes a comprehensive collection of newspapers from September 11 and the following days, a portion of the exhibition "Here is New York," photographs by photojournalists and bystanders, missing persons posters, publications, videos, and other historical artifacts.

As the American Civil War ground to a dispiriting and unheroic end after the surrender of General Robert E. Lee's rebel forces and the shocking assassination of President Abraham Lincoln in mid-April 1865, Jefferson Davis, President of the Confederate States, became a political fugitive. At dawn on May 10, 1865, a contingent of Michigan cavalry captured Davis in a makeshift camp outside Irwinville, Georgia. In his haste to flee, Davis grabbed his wife's overcoat rather than his own. News reports immediately circulated that Davis had been apprehended in women's clothes and that he was attempting to disguise himself as a woman. Northern artists and caricaturists seized upon these rumors of cowardly escape and created wildly inventive images, some using photomontage, to sensationalize the political story. Photographers circulated and even pirated dozens of fanciful photographic cards; many used a photographic portrait of Davis on a hand-drawn body in a woman's dress, hat, and crinoline, but wearing his own boots, the detail that supposedly betrayed him to his captors. The exhibition is organized by Assistant Curator of Collections Erin Barnett.

Religious rituals in America are not often public spectacles. A key exception was the tradition of river baptisms that flourished in the South and Midwest between 1880 and 1930. These outdoor communal rites were public displays of faith, practiced by thousands of Protestants, and witnessed by whole communities. A combination of economic depression and industrialization spurred religious fundamentalism in rural areas, and media-savvy preachers promoted mass revivals and encouraged a dialogue about religion in popular culture and media. Photographs of river baptisms were often disseminated as postcards, both by worshippers documenting their personal life-affirming experiences and by tourists noting exotic practices and vanishing folk traditions. This small exhibition of vintage postcards and a panorama is drawn from a unique archive of vernacular river baptism photographs given to the International Center of Photography by Janna Rosenkranz and Jim Linderman. This exhibition is organized by Erin Barnett, ICP Assistant Curator of Collections.

One of the most intriguing and little studied forms of nineteenth-century photography is the tintype. Introduced in 1856 as a low-cost alternative to the daguerreotype and the albumen print, the tintype was widely marketed from the 1860s through the first decades of the twentieth century as the cheapest and most popular photographic medium. Because of its ubiquity, the tintype provides a startlingly candid record of the political upheavals that rocked in the four decades following the American Civil War, and the personal anxieties they induced. The tintype studio became a kind of performance space where sitters could act out their personal identities, displaying the tools of their trade, masks and costumes, toys and dolls, stuffed animals, and props of all sorts. This uniquely American medium provides extraordinary insights into the development of national attitudes and characteristics in the formative years of the early modern era. The exhibition, organized by ICP Chief Curator Brian Wallis and guest curator Steven Kasher, includes over 150 remarkable examples of tintypes drawn from the Permanent Collection.

At the age of 60 Bern Schwartz transformed his long-term hobby of photography into a new career. His fresh ambition was solidified when ICP’s founding director Cornell Capa introduced Schwartz to Philippe Halsman in 1975 after a lecture by the master portrait photographer. Bern Schwartz’s enthusiasm and desire to allow photography to take his life in a new direction convinced Halsman to take him on as a student. This evolved into a number of private sessions over several years.

Bern Schwartz drew on Halsman’s expertise and spirited technique to help develop his own personal approach to portrait photography. Halsman later commented, “I never had a more enthusiastic or dedicated student.”

Schwartz was able to photograph some of the most accomplished artists and politicians of his day. He had special entrée into British society where his work is nearly a catalog of creative and powerful personalities of the mid 1970s. Most of ICP’s prints are of British subjects taken during Schwartz’s most active period 1976-77.

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This selection of beautiful and bizarre images, spanning the history of photography, unveils a rich but little-noted strain of surrealism in American culture. The exhibition highlights recent additions and generous donations to the ICP Permanent Collection. This exhibition was organized by ICP's Chief Curator Brian Wallis.

Among the least known but most prescient photographs taken by social documentary photographer Lewis Hine (1874–1940) were those he made as chief photographer for the National Research Project (NRP), a division of the federal government's Works Project Administration (WPA) founded in late 1935. The goal of the NRP was to investigate recent changes in industrial technologies and to assess their effects on future employment. In over 700 photographs, taken in industrial towns throughout the Northeast in 1936 and 1937, Hine revealed not only working conditions in aging industrial factories, but also in new industries and productive workplaces. The NRP published hundreds of reports illustrated with Hine's photographs on a broad variety of agricultural, manufacturing, and mining activities. His works captured the look of labor and industry in transition, while the entire NRP story provides provocative parallels to today’s economic challenges. The Future of America, organized by Hine scholar Judith Mara Gutman, draws on ICP’s archive of more than 300 of Hine’s prints from the NRP series and the master holdings at the National Archives.