Life Magazine and the Power of Photography

Life Magazine and the Power of Photography

From the Great Depression to the Vietnam War, the vast majority of the photographs printed and consumed in the United States appeared on the pages of illustrated magazines. Offering an in-depth look at the photography featured in Life magazine throughout its weekly run from 1936 to 1972, this exhibition examines how the magazine’s use of images fundamentally shaped the modern idea of photography in the United States. The work of photographers such as Margaret Bourke-White, Larry Burrows, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Frank Dandridge, Gordon Parks, and W. Eugene Smith is explored in the context of the creative and editorial structures at Life. Drawing on unprecedented access to Life magazine’s picture and paper archives, as well as photographers’ archives, the exhibition presents an array of materials, including caption files, contact sheets, and shooting scripts, that shed new light on the collaborative process behind many now-iconic images and photo-essays.

Princeton University Art Museum, February 22–June 21, 2020

Continue to explore Life magazine and its photographs through this interactive digital module. Here you can view each photo story featured in the exhibition as it was published on the pages of Life, as well as the cover for that week's issue and the paid advertisements adjacent to many of the stories. 


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