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"Molotov Man" in Context

Susan Meiselas, artist. In 1990 the National Gallery of Art launched an initiative to acquire the finest examples of the art of photography and to mount photography exhibitions of the highest quality, accompanied by scholarly publications and programs. In the years since, the Gallery’s collection of photographs has grown to nearly 15,000 works encompassing the history of the medium from its beginnings in 1839 to the present, featuring in-depth holdings of work by many of the masters of the art form. Commemorating the 25th anniversary of this initiative, the Gallery presents the exhibition The Memory of Time: Contemporary Photographs at the National Gallery of Art, Acquired with the Alfred H. Moses and Fern M. Schad Fund. On view from May 3 through September 13, 2015, The Memory of Time explores the work of 26 contemporary artists who investigate the richness and complexity of photography’s relationship to time, memory, and history. In this lecture recorded on May 31, 2015, Susan Meiselas discusses the themes and broader historical context of the installation The Life of an Image: “Molotov Man,” 1979-2009 featured in the exhibition. This installation traces the life and authorship of this iconic image taken during the last days of the Nicaraguan revolution in 1979.