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Monday, December 04, 2006

Do Not Adjust Your Screen

We know the American Depression through black and-white photographs. Now you can see it in color.

By Blake Morrison, The Guardian

If you have an image of the 1930s, the odds are it will be in black-and-white. This was the decade of the Great Depression and in both Britain and the United States, photographers worked almost exclusively in monochrome. Many books, songs and documentaries of the era—from The Grapes of Wrath and The Road to Wigan Pier to Woody Guthrie and John Grierson—are suffused with the same austere spirit, exacting a full look at the worst (hunger, poverty and oppression) with the aim of changing conditions for the better. The work isn't uniformly grim, but even the more hopeful images seem to be filtered through a lens of dusty grey—like the cold, post-apocalyptic ash that overlays the landscape in Cormac McCarthy's gruelling new novel, The Road....


Slide Show




Blogger mbb said...

There may be another reason that these color images look more prosperous than we might expect. To quote Paul Simon:

They give us those nice bright colors
They give us the greens of summers
Makes you think all the world's a sunny day

8:01 AM  
Blogger robert e said...

Cool. Thanks, Mike.

I just found a larger selection (in terms of both size and number) of these photos at the Library of Congress, including archival TIFFs:

6:21 PM  
Blogger Jim Natale said...

To view more examples and to read about some of the photographers, see these blog links:

The Depression in Color

Marion Post Wolcott

Jack Delano

The FSA prjoect was a fascinating effort, and it prompted some wonderful work.

2:10 PM  

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