Modern Look: Photography and the American Magazine at The Jewish Museum, April 3 – July 11, 2021

“The Jewish Museum presents Modern Look: Photography and the American Magazine, an exhibition exploring how photography, graphic design, and popular magazines converged to transform American visual culture from the 1930s to the 1950s.

Modern Look: Photography and the American Magazine highlights a time when avant-garde techniques in photography and design reached the United States via European émigrés, including Bauhaus artists forced out of Nazi Germany. Whether in the service of advertising or fashion, image-making began to burgeon as the relationship between photography and text grew more nuanced. As the standard of photojournalism rose, so did the power of the photograph. In magazines like Life or Look, it came to be understood as a potent new language, superseding the written word as a means of kindling the imagination. The unmistakable aesthetic made popular by such magazines as Harper’s Bazaar and Vogue — whose art directors, Alexey Brodovitch and Alexander Liberman, were immigrants and accomplished photographers — emerged from a distinctly American combination of innovation and pragmatism.

Featuring over 150 works including vintage photographs, art book layouts, and magazine cover designs, the exhibition considers the connections and influences of designers and photographers such as Richard Avedon, Lillian Bassman, Lester Beall, Margaret Bourke-White, Louis Faurer, Robert Frank, William Klein, Herbert Matter, Lisette Model, Gordon Parks, Irving Penn, Cipe Pineles, and Paul Rand.” — The Jewish Museum

Ringl + Pit (Grete Stern and Ellen Auerbach). Komol Haircoloring, 1932, printed 1985. Gelatin silver print. The Jewish Museum, NY, Purchase: Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation Fund Artwork © ringl+pit, courtesy Robert Mann Gallery, New York
PM Magazine, October-November 1938. Cover art by Paul Rand. Melbert B. Cary, Jr. Graphic Arts Collection, Rochester Institute of Technology Libraries
Direction, Vol. 3 No. 9, December 1940. Cover design: Paul Rand
Joseph Breitenbach. We New Yorkers, 1942. Gelatin silver print and collage. The Jewish Museum, New York. Purchase: Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation Fund © Josef and Yaye Breitebach Charitable Foundation, courtesy Gitterman Gallery
Alexey Brodovitch. Choreartium (Three Men Jumping), c. 1930s. Gelatin silver print. Collection of Eric and Lizzie Himmel, New York
Martin Munkácsi. Woman on Electrical Productions Building, New York World’s Fair, New York, 1938. Gelatin silver print. F.C. Gundlach Collection, Hamburg Artwork © Estate of Martin Munkácsi, Courtesy Howard Greenberg Gallery, New York
Lillian Bassman. A Report to Skeptics, Suzy Parker, April 1952, Harper’s Bazaar. Gelatin silver print. Collection of Eric and Lizzie Himmel, New York © Estate of Lillian Bassman
Lillian Bassman. Blowing Kiss, 1958. Gelatin silver print. Collection of Eric and Lizzie Himmel, New York © Estate of Lillian Bassman
Gordon Parks. Portrait of Helen Frankenthaler, photographed for Life Magazine, May 13, 1957, printed 2018. Archival pigment print. The Jewish Museum, NY, Purchase: Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation Fund, 2018-75 Artwork © The Gordon Parks Foundation
Frances McLaughlin-Gill. Nan Martin, Street Scene, First Avenue, 1949. Gelatin silver print. Private collection © Estate of Frances McLaughlin-Gill
Cover, Scope Magazine, November 1941. Designer: Will Burtin. Will Burtin Papers, Cary Graphic Arts Collection, Rochester Institute of Technology
Westvaco Inspiration for Printers, No. 210, 1958. Spread Designer: Bradbury Thompson. Image courtesy of Cary Graphic Arts Collection, Rochester Institute of Technology
William Klein. Kid + Homeless, New York, printed c. 1955. Gelatin silver print. Howard Greenberg Gallery, New York © William Klein
William Klein, American, born in 1928. Atom Bomb Sky, New York, 1955, printed later. Gelatin silver print. Howard Greenberg Gallery © William Klein
Saul Leiter. Dick and Adele, c. 1947, printed 2005. Gelatin silver print. Saul Leiter Foundation, New York © Saul Leiter Foundation, courtesy Howard Greenberg Gallery
Saul Leiter. From the Wedding as a Funeral series, c. 1951. Gelatin silver print. Saul Leiter Foundation, New York © Saul Leiter Foundation, courtesy Howard Greenberg Gallery

Modern Look: Photography and the American Magazine was organized by Mason Klein, Senior Curator, The Jewish Museum.

Images courtesy Jewish Museum.