I Spy: Photography and the Theater of the Street

Subway Portraits, 1938-1941 (c) Walker Evans Archive, The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Robert Frank, Walker Evans, Bruce Davidson, Harry Callahan, Philip-Lorca diCorcia and Beat Streuli explore the comedy and drama of life in public spaces in I Spy: Photography and the Theater of the Street, 1938-2010 on view in the West Building at the National Gallery of Art in Washington DC April 22 – August 5, 2012. Nearly 90 works by masters of the genre, many culled from the gallery’s collection, showcase everyday urban life as subject and source of inspiration.

Walker Evans’ grainy black and white images from Subway Portraits, 1938-1941, feature prominently in the exhibition and provide a compelling counterpoint to Bruce Davidson’s multitude of rich kodachromes from the monograph Subway (Aperture 2011). [A very different project from Davidson’s current and exciting endeavor documenting the “Nature of Los Angeles.”]

Work by Robert Frank, one of the pioneers of the genre with photos “snapped seemingly mid-stride,” some have said, has also been featured in a similar retrospective exhibition and accompanying photobook, co-published by Aperture and The Bronx Museum of the Arts in 2008, Street Art, Street Life: From the 1950′s to Now.

Philip-Lorca diCorcia’s work is also featured in The New York Times Magazine Photographs, edited by Kathy Ryan (Aperture 2011).

Subway, 1980-1981 (c) Bruce Davidson

I Spy: Photography and the Theater of the Streets
Exhibition on view:
April 22 – August 5, 2012

National Gallery of Art
Fourth Street and Constitution Avenue NW
Washington, DC
(202) 737-4215