[Automotive Component]

Edward G. Budd Manufacturing Co. American

On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 852

Draped sheets and soiled drop cloths transform the industrial interiors of a Philadelphia factory into makeshift photo studios. Isolated before them, the component parts of cars and trains become inadvertent elements of modernist picture-making. Deadpan views like this were once strictly utilitarian; they served as raw data to be cropped and incorporated into company pamphlets, patent illustrations, and instructional manuals. Nevertheless, the finely molded metal pieces are arranged before the camera with a keen attention to volume and scale. The factory’s in-house imaging team here exhibits a formal affinity with New Vision photographers, who were enamored, around this time, with the sleek aesthetic of American manufacturing.

[Automotive Component], Edward G. Budd Manufacturing Co. (American, 1912–1946), Gelatin silver print

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