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May 17, 2024

The '70s Lens: Reimagining Documentary Photography

National Gallery of Art, Washington, October 6, 2024–April 6, 2025

Anthony Barboza, "New York City"

Anthony Barboza
New York City, 1970s
gelatin silver print
image: 23.7 x 15.9 cm (9 5/16 x 6 1/4 in.)
sheet: 25.2 x 20.4 cm (9 15/16 x 8 1/16 in.)
National Gallery of Art, Washington
Pepita Milmore Memorial Fund

Drawn primarily from the National Gallery’s permanent collection, The ’70s Lens: Reimagining Documentary Photography explores how artists used the camera to examine life in the United States from a diversity of perspectives—and, in doing so, opened the practice of documentary photography to exciting new strategies and subjects. The 1970s was a decade of uncertainty: soaring inflation, energy crises, the Watergate scandal, and protests about pressing social issues (the Vietnam War, women’s rights, gay liberation, and the environment) rocked the country. This profound upheaval formed the backdrop for a revolution in documentary photography. Activism and growing multiculturalism opened the field to underrepresented voices, while artistic experimentation fueled the reimagining of documentary formats to include color photography and conceptual practices. Featuring work by more than 80 artists, The ’70s Lens focuses on this compelling and contested moment of reinvention. The multiplicity of documentary approaches that emerged in this decade reflects a radical shift in American life and in photography itself.

The exhibition is organized by the National Gallery of Art, Washington.

The exhibition is curated by Andrea Nelson, associate curator in the department of photographs, National Gallery of Art.

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