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Events
The Metropolitan Museum of Art: Cruel Radiance: Photography, 1940s–1960s
visura blog
Apr 12, 2022
Cruel Radiance: Photography, 1940s–1960s focuses on extraordinary recent gifts to The Met—especially those made in celebration of the Museum’s 150th anniversary in 2020. 

The show explores the flourishing of photography as a medium between World War II and the Vietnam War and includes several mini-monographic presentations on a group of diverse photographers including Helen Levitt, Roy DeCarava, Mario De Biasi, Robert Frank, Diane Arbus, Don McCullin, and Aaron Rose. 

The exhibition features classic photographs seldom seen, acquisitions that the Museum has not yet exhibited, and magazines and books by Japanese photographers—also notable gifts to The Met and works of art in their own right. The show’s title is borrowed from Let Us Now Praise Famous Men, James Agee and Walker Evans’s collaborative depression-era masterpiece published in 1941. Agee writes about what he believed was Evans’s (and photography’s) greatest achievement and challenge: “all of consciousness is shifted from the imagined … to the effort to perceive simply the cruel radiance of what is.”

The exhibition is made possible by The Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation, Inc.Walker Evans (American, 1903–1975). Corner of State and Randolph Streets, Chicago (detail), 1946. Gelatin silver print, 6 1/4 x 5 3/16 in. (15.9 x 13.1 cm). The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, The Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation Gift, through Joyce and Robert Menschel, 1990 (1990.1045). © Walker Evans Archive, The Metropolitan Museum of Art.


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