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Exhibitions/ African American Portraits: Photographs from the 1940s and 1950s

African American Portraits: Photographs from the 1940s and 1950s

At The Met Fifth Avenue
June 26–November 6, 2018

Exhibition Overview

This exhibition presents more than one hundred and fifty studio portraits of African Americans from the mid-twentieth century, part of an important recent acquisition by The Met. Produced by mostly unidentified makers, the photographs are a poignant, collective self portrait of the African American experience during the 1940s and 1950s—a time of war, middle-class growth, and seismic cultural change.


" . . . a rarely seen view of life at a time of change" —Guardian

" . . . it becomes evermore important to see not just oneself, but one's community represented at major museums such as the Met . . . " —Artsy

" . . . demonstrate[s] how African-Americans made use of the popular yet intimate art form to depict themselves free from caricature or bias." —Wall Street Journal

" . . . photography as record-keeping at its finest." —Musée

The exhibition is made possible by the Alfred Stieglitz Society.

On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in

Exhibition Objects

Unknown American makers and Daisy Studio (American, active 1940s). Studio Portraits, 1940s–50s. Gelatin silver prints. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Twentieth-Century Photography Fund, 2015, 2017 (2017.560, 2015.339, 2015.309, 2015.338, 2017.583, 2017.591, 2017.636, 2015.328, 2015.344)