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Cities Are for People: Street Photography, 1945-1970 
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Cities Are for People: Street Photography, 1945-1970

Street Photography has the power to transform the way we see cities and the people within them, bringing us face-to-face with the endlessly unfolding theater of the street. Embracing photography’s unique potential to express not just the look, but also the feeling of cities, the artists in this exhibition held the urgent belief that photography was the medium for the moment.Leon Levinstein, American (1910–1988). Untitled (Street Scene)

As a genre, Street Photography emerged in 1945 after WWII as photographers avidly explored public life in a time of remarkable change influenced by the Cold War, the civil rights movement, and the Vietnam War. Using handheld, affordable cameras, available light sources and, often, 35mm film, street photographers took quick, candid images of everyday city life with incredible speed. Brash, confrontational, witty, and deeply human, Street Photography brings us up-close to the world and people that surrounds us.

Featuring 54 photographs by 40 different photographers, this exhibition includes 35 photographs that have never before on view at the Nelson-Atkins.

Artists include: Diane Arbus, Ilse Bing, Harry Callahan, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Bruce Davidson, Roy DeCarava, Louis Draper, Robert Frank, Leonard Freed, Lee Friedlander, Yasuhiro Ishimoto, William Klein, Dorothea Lange, Saul Leiter, Helen Levitt, Tosh Matsumoto, Ray Metzker, Lisette Model, Ruth Orkin, Beuford Smith, and Garry Winogrand.

This exhibition will be accompanied by a selection of historic photographs in gallery L10, produced between 1840 and 1950, featuring a century of photographs taken in the street.


Organized by The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art.


Image Captions:
Header Image: Detail, Arthur Siegel, American (1913–1978). State Street, 1949. Dye transfer print, 8 9/16 × 10 5/16 inches. The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Gift of Hallmark Cards, Inc., 2005.27.2201.
Detail, Leon Levinstein, American (1910–1988). Untitled (Street Scene), about 1960s. Gelatin silver print, 13 3/4 × 15 3/8 inches. The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Gift of Hallmark Cards, Inc., 2005.27.1786.