About once a generation some photographic show will prove to stand out. They bring to the public a gathering of influences, a flowering of reactions, and because they either sum up a trend or introduce a new one, they assume landmark proportions.
In 1929 the Deutsche Werkbund, an organization in Germany actively promoting modern art, assembled a gigantic photographic exhibition in Stuttgart. Thirteen galleries of the city's exposition building were filled with more than a thousand photographs, collected from Europe and America.
THE THEME SHOW: A Contemporary Exhibition Technique
RELATION TO OTHER MEDIA
INFLUENCE OF ARCHITECTURAL SHAPE
A PHOTOGRAPHIC GENRE
SIGNIFICANCE OF THE MEDIUM AND THE SHOW
Aline B. Saarinen
THE FAMILY OF MAN is a jolly good show, a statistical stopper, a box office success and for the critic proves how quickly the milk of human kindness turns to schmaltz. Two articles have appeared that between them give an accurate idea of the whole event.
At the request of the Sierra Club of California, Nancy Neivhall and Ansel Adams, using the "theme show" technique, made Conservation articulate to a modern audience in a contemporary manner. Its theme is man's use and abuse of land and water— and his utter dependence on these for life itself.
"This Is the American Earth" is an esthetic masterpiece, but its prime purpose is not the enjoyment of the magnificent photographs it contains. It is a propaganda show, organized by Nancy Newhall and Ansel Adams to acquaint the public with the history of the conservation movement in this country, and with present needs and prospects in this field.
To you who make request it is I who am telling about This Is the American Earth. On opening day my eyes were opened. No fun house this like Family of Man, only dignity and magnificence. I before never knew photographs could magnify theme. Secure always in my little brickhouse how little I felt outdoors.