Pictures that tell a century's tale

This photograph, taken in March 1966, shows Martin Luther King and the then U.S. President, Lyndon Johnson (in the background).

This photograph, taken in March 1966, shows Martin Luther King and the then U.S. President, Lyndon Johnson (in the background).  

A WHILE ago, Life magazine came out with a photographic journey of the past century. Of course, the pictures looked at the world from an American perspective but the tome was impressive enough, though too expensive for most people at $60. But now something else has come up. And this time it is free!

The American Consulate General, Chennai, and the State Directorate of Kannada and Culture plan to hold an exhibition on "100 Years of American Photographs: Picturing the Century".

To be held at the Chitra Art Gallery, Kannada Bhavan, J.C. Road, till November 24 (10 a.m. to 8 p.m.), it will be inaugurated by U.R. Ananthamurthy on Saturday at 6.30 p.m.

The collection, says Helen LaFave, Acting Consul for Public Affairs at the U.S. Consulate, is from the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration. There are 110 images, prints matted and framed to 14x16 inches, and photomurals on the images exhibited, with English text panels on the six sections of the show — A New Century, The Great War and the New Era, The Great Depression and the New Deal, A World in Flames, Post-war America, and Century's End.

`Rising earth greets Apollo VII astronauts... ' (December 1968).

`Rising earth greets Apollo VII astronauts... ' (December 1968).  

The images range from the evocative to the harshly realistic, from the mundane to high political drama — from John F. Kennedy cradling son John Jr. on the beach at Newport, Rhode Island, to the Wright Brothers' first flight, a Depression-era soup line, the mushroom cloud above Hiroshima and Nagasaki; a young Marine in Da Nang, Vietnam, and, of course, the most famous of them all, footprints on the Moon.

There are also combat photography of the attack on Pearl Harbour, the Normandy invasion, and the air war in Europe and the Pacific.

The six portfolios feature famous American photographers as well as those of people like Dorothea Lange, who took photographs for the Bureau of Agricultural Reforms in the early 1940s; Lewis Hine, whose child labour pictures led to its abolition; and Walter Lubken, who captured dam building and engineering feats.

But we hope that this event will turn our minds to the many unknown countrymen who did similarly splendid work for India. Isn't it time we honoured them as well?

By Divya Sreedharan

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