Between Art & Documentary

Marcel Duchamp, L.H.O.O.Q., 1919.












Marcel Duchamp, Fountain, 1917.











Alfred Stieglitz, Duchamp's Fountain photographed in the 291 Gallery














Jacob Riis, Going Down the Gangplank, c. 1880s.










Jacob Riis, NY Tenement, c. 1880s.











Jacob Riis, Bandits' Roost, New York, 1888.

muckraker = journalist who investigates and exposes societal issues











Abuse is the normal condition of “the Bend,” murder its everyday crop, with the tenants not always the criminals. In this block between Bayard, Park, Mulberry, and Baxter Streets, “the Bend” proper, the late Tenement House Commission counted 155 deaths of children in a specimen year (1882). Their per centage of the total mortality in the block was 68.28, while for the whole city the proportion was only 46.20. The infant mortality in any city or place as compared with the whole number of deaths is justly considered a good barometer of its general sanitary condition. Here, in this tenement, No. 59 1/2, next to Bandits’ Roost, fourteen persons died that year, and eleven of them were children; in No. 61 eleven, and eight of them not yet five years old. According to the records in the Bureau of Vital Statistics only thirty-nine people lived in No. 59 1/2 in the year 1888, nine of them little children. There were five baby funerals in that house the same year. Out of the alley itself, No. 59, nine dead were carried in 1888, five in baby coffins. - from How the Other Half Lives
Jacob Riis, Tenement on Mulberry Street, c. 1880s.











Riis consistently argued that the
"poor were the victims rather than the makers of their fate"

Social Darwinism = belief that society's evolve like organisms and only the fit will survive, while the weak and unfit should be allowed to die and go extinct
  • An important aspect of this line of thinking was the belief that poverty was a just reward for sin
Social Uplift = belief that crime is an effect of poverty rather than its cause
Jacob Riis, Street Arabs, c. 1880s.











Italian Ragpicker

Jacob Riis, Home of an Italian Ragpicker, New York, 1888.


More Jacob Riis Photographs











Lewis Hine, Italian Madonna, 1905.











Lewis Hine, Breaker Boys Working in Ewen Breaker of Pennsylvania Coal Co., 1911.











Lewis Hine, Newsies at Skeeter's Branch, 1912.
Lewis Hine, Boys in the Packing Room, Brown Mfg., Indianna, c. 1900s.











1907 government inquiry revealed that at least 1,750,178 children between 10 and 15 years old were working in US factories
In cotton mills, almost 50% of the workers were an average of 10 years old
Lewis Hine, Addie Card, Twelve Year Old Spinner in New England Mill, 1913.












Marcel Duchamp, Fountain, 1917.









Woman on the Telephone

"Photography's long-acknowledged power to mirror the face of the world was by no means abandoned, but in the 1920s and '30s a host of unconventional forms and techniques suddenly flourished. Abstract photograms, photomontages composed of fragmented images, the combination of photographs with modern typography and graphic design in posters and magazine pages - all were facets of what artist and theorist László Moholy-Nagy enthusiastically described as a "new vision" rooted in the technological culture of the twentieth century." - Metropolitan Museum
Aleksander Rodchenko, Woman at the Telephone, 1928.











The Lathe
Paul Strand, The Lathe, 1923.

Laszlo Moholy-Nagy, Photogram, 1926.












Alvin Coburn, The Octopus, 1912.










"The full potential power of every medium is dependent upon the purity of its use...This means a real respect for the thing in front of him... The fullest realization of this accomplished without tricks of process or manipulation, through the use of straight photographic methods."
- Paul Strand

Paul Strand, Manhatta, 1921.
Paul Strand, Wall Street, 1916.











Aleksander Rodchenko, Portrait of My Mother Reading, 1924.
Aleksander Rodchenko, Portrait of My Mother, shot in 1924, printed in 1950.











Georgia O'Keefe
Georgia O'Keefe
Alfred Stieglitz, Georgia O'Keefe, 1918.
Alfred Stieglitz, Georgia O'Keefe, 1918.











Georgia O'Keefe
Alfred Stieglitz, Georgia O'Keefe, 1918.
Alfred Stieglitz, Dorothy Norman, 1931.