Street Life Photo Exhibit: An In-depth Look at 1970s Counterculture

Street Life Photo Exhibit: An In-depth Look at 1970s Counterculture

The High Museum of Art in Atlanta Georgia will be holding a photography exhibit entitled Street Life: American Photographers from the 1960s and 70s until August 10th. Focusing on four American photographers that documented four various aspects of life, the collected work comes together as a broad overview of American culture at that time.

The 1960s to the 1970s was a time of major social change in cities across the United States with the emergence of the counterculture movement, a rebellion against the societal norms of the 1950s which involved such concepts as women’s liberation, civil rights and other social issues. Including three photographic essays as well as a group of collected images, Street Life is an exhibit varying in subject matter and social commentary. Each photographer included in this themed show had a different focus, goal and attachment to their subjects, allowing Street Life to be a well rounded and fulfilling exhibit with a comprehensive story to tell.

One of the major photo essays is Danny Lyon’s The Bikeriders. Lyon chose to focus this collection of work on city motorcycle groups; traveling, interviewing and photographing them. Lyon’s works include written descriptions and stories of the individuals he captured in his images giving the viewer an understanding of their life in its own time and place.

Another portfolio shown in its entirety is Carnival Strippers by Susan Meiselas, a well recognized photojournalist. Her work chosen for his exhibit is an inside look at the life of low income women working as strippers for a traveling show out of necessity rather than choice. Including recorded interviews with her subjects, Meiselas presents the complete experience of this alternative life style as well as the struggle of her subjects for the attainment of some type of power over men, even if it was only sexual.

Garry Winogrand is a photographer known for his work focusing on American life and social issues. Women Are Beautiful, one of his earlier works, was chosen for this exhibit due to it’s content as well as context. A not yet complete collection, Winogrand’s portfolio was shot while walking around New York City. He would rapidly take photographs of women, unaware of the camera, on their way to work, at protests, leisurely walking, and just participating in everyday life. The variety of the images included in Women Are Beautiful subtly comments on the decade’s counterculture movement of women’s liberation.

The exhibit highlight is Dennis Carlyle Darling’s The Motorcycle Gangs of Chicago, according to High Museum’s Head Photography Curator Julian Cox. This little-known photographer’s first portfolio of work is an intense and gritty look into the 1970 Chicago gang life. Darling’s images are the most vintage of the collected art. Printed on lightweight paper, his images have warmth and strong contrast emphasizing his subjects’ expressions and surroundings. Darling was essentially photojournalistic in his approach to capture the essence of his subjects’ lives and culture making his work that much more captivating.

Also on display at High Museum of Art is Road to Freedom: Photographers of the Civil Rights Movement 1956-1968.

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