Alfred Stieglitz (American, 1864-1946), Winter – Fifth Avenue, Detail, 1892, Photogravure, Museum purchase, 1976.0044.

Master Photographers Welcome New York City to the 20th Century

Aaron Siskind (1903-1991, born New York, New York; died Providence, Rhode Island), Harlem Document 18, 1939, Gelatin silver print, Gift of Robert Drapkin and Chitranee Drapkin, 1987.0367.

Alvin Langdon Coburn (1882-1966, born Boston, Massachusetts; died Colwyn Bay, Wales, United Kingdom), Brooklyn Bridge, circa 1900, Photogravure, Museum purchase: State funds, 1972.0065.


Spencer Museum of Art
The University of Kansas
1301 Mississippi Street

North Balcony
A New York Picture Post:
Gotham in the 20th Century

September 28, 2006-January 6, 2007

Each man reads his own meaning into New York.

— New York reporter,
Meyer Berger

Cultural capital or smog-choked megalopolis? New York is a city that courts passionate opinions. Whether one notes the art scene or the crime scenes, Central Park or Central Booking, the skyscrapers or the abandoned row houses, everyone seems to have an opinion about the city that never sleeps.

New York was founded as New Amsterdam in 1614, was seized by the English and renamed in 1664, and even served as capital of the fledgling United States until 1790. In the 19th century, the city grew to become the financial and cultural capital of the United States. Yet, it was the 20th century that witnessed the true emergence of New York in all its modern splendor.

This exhibition employs photographs from the Spencer’s collection to explore 100 years of the 20th-century New York experience. Many an important photographer has turned his or her camera toward the Big Apple and together they present a portrait of a vital, diverse, and entrancing city.

A New York Picture Post utilizes the photographs of Alfred Stieglitz, Aaron Siskind, James Van Der Zee, Walker Evans, Berenice Abbott, Weegee, Robert Frank, Garry Winogrand, Lee Friedlander, Bill Jacobson, and many others to capture the five boroughs of New York. Love it or hate it, this portrait of the city will be on the walls of the Spencer Museum of Art throughout the fall, giving plenty of opportunities to substantiate Meyer Berger’s words and read your own meaning into New York.

This exhibition is organized for the Spencer Museum of Art by guest curator Brett Knappe, former Andrew W. Mellon photography intern and KU graduate student in art history.

Berenice Abbot, Cliff and Ferry Street. Nov. 29, 1935.

James Van Der Zee (1886-1983, born Lenox, Massachusetts, died Washington, D.C.), (untitled) dancing girls, 1928, Gelatin silver print, Museum Purchase: Peter T. Bohan Art Acquisition Fund, 2007.0036.