he absolute protagonist of the show is the city of New York. Curated by Sarah Hermanson Meister, the exhibition reconstructs the birth of the myth of the Big Apple through images captured by great photographers from the early 20th century onwards.
The fine, rare photographic material is being exhibited for the first time in Italy, and bears witness not only to 100 years of the history of photography, but also recounts the story of the complex 20th century and how the skyline of New York interpreted its spirit.
The journey starts with the famous “City of Ambition” of 1910 by Alfred Stieglitz, the prophet of modernity in America, who captured the essence of places that would soon become the dreamed-of destination of many artists. Stieglitz’s work is of fundamental importance: he was the first photographer to decide to immortalise the dynamism and tumult of New York, thereby influencing all later photography.
Ever since its inauguration in 1929, the MoMA has understood the value of photography, as demonstrated by the words of its first director, Alfred Barr: “...the collection must expand beyond the borders of painting and sculpture”.
The vertical architecture and skyscrapers that started to appear along the roads of the city between the 1920s and 1930s would be the object of the modernist approach of the photographers of the time. Symbolising this trend are such images as “Five Corners” of 1935 by Ralph Steiner, and “Welders on the Empire State Buliding” hanging in mid-air, by Lewis W. Hine.
During the 1960s, photography became an ever more important feature of reality, without aiming to hide the ugliness, with the chaotic and vibrant character of the city becoming an inexhaustible source of inspiration. The leading photographers took on a documentary trend, leaving extraordinary views of the first events of major social impact, such as Kennedy’s election campaign and the Beatles’ first tour in the States in 1964, both events becoming epics with the passage of time.
Curated by Sarah Hermanson Meister
The exhibition is organised by the Museum of Modern Art, New York and is under the patronage of the International Council of The Museum of Modern Art