This week, I would like you to consider two photographic works taken at the beginning of the Civil Rights movement in the 1950s. In 1955, Swiss-born photographer Robert Frank traveled across the country taking photographs of people. Unbeknownst to him was the impact his photographs would have in their published form, The Americans (1958/1959). Described as “un-American” or as a “sad poem by a very sick person,” The Americans captured the social undercurrents of life in the 1950s. Frank’s unique style was highly influential to following generations of photographers. His photographs often revealed a social divide between blacks and whites in America, a rift that his critics did not wish acknowledge. Just two years later, a phenomenal photograph was taken on the first day of a desegregated school, which suggests that Frank had indeed felt the true pulse of America. Read (or listen) about these two works: Frank’s The Americans and the photo-journalist Will Counts’ image of Elizabeth Eckford going to high school in Little Rock, AK in 1957. Do you think one type of photography, Frank’s “art” photography vs. Counts’ news photography, is more effective than the other? Or are both powerful visual documents of the social inequities in American society of the Fifties?
The deadline for submitting posts to THIS Discussion Topic is the last day of class, Thursday, May 23rd. Please note only the last few Discussion Topics have this extended deadline–check the dates!