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Press Release - Artists' Interpretations of Crowds Explored in Huntington Exhibition Opening This Fall

July 09, 2015

“A World of Strangers: Crowds in American Art” on view Oct. 17, 2015–April 4, 2016 in the Huntington Art Gallery

 

Weegee, First Murder, c. 1950, gelatin silver print, 10 1/8 × 11 in. The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles. © International Center of Photography.

Weegee, First Murder, c. 1950, gelatin silver print, 10 1/8 × 11 in. The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles. © International Center of Photography.

 

SAN MARINO, Calif.—A focused loan exhibition at The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens will explore the various ways in which American artists have represented crowds in modern urban life. “A World of Strangers: Crowds in American Art” is on view from Oct. 17, 2015, to April 4, 2016, in the Huntington Art Gallery.

 

The exhibition of about 20 works shows how artists have represented groups of people as patterns of dots, murky silhouettes, and teeming, river like currents of cars and machinery, as well as voyeurs of horrific scenes. It includes art from the 20th century to contemporary times by artists such as George Bellows, Walker Evans, Torkel Korling, George Luks, and Weegee working in various media. In addition to objects from The Huntington’s collections, the exhibition features selections from lenders including the J. Paul Getty Museum, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and Pasadena-based collector and longtime Huntington benefactor Hannah S. Kully.

 

“A World of Strangers” begins with an evocative photograph, Crowded Pier by Moonlight, Arverne, Long Island, New York, made around 1910. The picture, by Karl Struss, a photographer who later became a successful cinematographer, depicts people on a pier at night who seem to meld with the moon’s afterglow. The exhibition ends with three pieces from Ken Gonzales-Day’s chilling Erased Lynching, a photographic series from 2006 that casts a stark light on communities gathered to witness lynchings, and in one case what appears to be a military execution. The works by Struss and Gonzales-Day, separated by nearly a century, demonstrate two of the various ways in which artists convey the anonymity of crowds, in one case romantic and sublime, and in the other horrific.

 

Gonzales-Day’s East First Street (Lightjet mounted to cardstock) originated from a historical photograph, but was altered in 2006, with the victim digitally “erased.” The resulting work sharpens the focus on the community that gathered to watch the spectacle. Among those in the crowd is a central figure that, perhaps self-consciously, is caught looking back at the camera as the photograph is taken. “In a crowd, people are sometimes compelled to act in ways they would not do otherwise,” said James Glisson, Bradford and Christine Mishler Assistant Curator of American Art at The Huntington and curator of the exhibition. For example, in Weegee’s First Murder (ca. 1950), the documentary-style photograph captures a gang of curious children and adults joined together to stare at a gruesome crime scene.

 

“We all carry around in the back of our minds an idea of how we relate to everyone else. These artists give form to the constant and mostly unconscious negotiating we do with all those strangers every time we’re in public, on the metro, at the airport, on the freeway,” said Glisson.

 

In “A World of Strangers,” some crowds are so anonymous that they become abstract textures rather than individuals, as in Korling’s 1929 photograph Crowded Beach, taken from above, and in Benton Murdoch Spruance’s 1939 lithograph Traffic Control, in which cars on a street become a puzzle of interlocking graphic shapes. Said Glisson, “From a busy swarm of cars to a scattered pattern of people on a beach, each seeking out a private patch of sand, these works speak volumes about the modern world and our place in it.”

 

This exhibition is supported by the Susan and Stephen Chandler Exhibition Endowment.

 

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Contacts
Thea M. Page, 626-405-2260, tpage@huntington.org
Lisa Blackburn, 626-405-2140, lblackburn@huntington.org

 

About The Huntington

The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens is a collections-based research and educational institution serving scholars and the general public. More information about The Huntington can be found online at huntington.org

 

Visitor Information

The Huntington is located at 1151 Oxford Rd., San Marino, Calif., 12 miles from downtown Los Angeles. It is open to the public Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday from noon to 4:30 p.m.; and Saturday, Sunday, and Monday holidays from 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Summer hours (Memorial Day through Labor Day) are 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Closed Tuesdays and major holidays. Information: 626-405-2100 or huntington.org

 


Images

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George Wesley Bellows, Billy Sunday, 1923, lithograph, 8 7/8 × 16 1/8 in. The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens. Collection of Hannah S. Kully.

George Wesley Bellows, Billy Sunday, 1923, lithograph, 8 7/8 × 16 1/8 in. The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens. Collection of Hannah S. Kully.

 


Walker Evans, Bridgeport Parade: Marching Band and Crowd, 1941, gelatin silver print, 7 3/16 × 8 7/8 in. J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles.

Walker Evans, Bridgeport Parade: Marching Band and Crowd, 1941, gelatin silver print, 7 3/16 × 8 7/8 in. J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles.

 


Torkel Korling, Crowded Beach, 1929, gelatin silver print, 13 7/16 × 10 7/16. Los Angeles County Museum of Art. The Marjorie and Leonard Vernon Collection, gift of The Annenberg Foundation, acquired from Carol Vernon and Robert Turbin. Photo © 2015 Museum Associates/LACMA.

Torkel Korling, Crowded Beach, 1929, gelatin silver print, 13 7/16 × 10 7/16. Los Angeles County Museum of Art. The Marjorie and Leonard Vernon Collection, gift of The Annenberg Foundation, acquired from Carol Vernon and Robert Turbin. Photo © 2015 Museum Associates/LACMA.

 


Torkel Korling, Cut Away Abstraction, Rockford, 1944, gelatin silver print, 10 15/16 × 13 7/8. Los Angeles County Museum of Art. The Marjorie and Leonard Vernon Collection, gift of The Annenberg Foundation, acquired from Carol Vernon and Robert Turbin. Photo © 2015 Museum Associates/LACMA.

Torkel Korling, Cut Away Abstraction, Rockford, 1944, gelatin silver print, 10 15/16 × 13 7/8. Los Angeles County Museum of Art. The Marjorie and Leonard Vernon Collection, gift of The Annenberg Foundation, acquired from Carol Vernon and Robert Turbin. Photo © 2015 Museum Associates/LACMA.

 


Armin Landeck, Manhattan Vista, 1934, drypoint, 10 1/8 × 8 5/8 in. The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens. Gift of Hannah S. Kully.

Armin Landeck, Manhattan Vista, 1934, drypoint, 10 1/8 × 8 5/8 in. The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens. Gift of Hannah S. Kully.

 


Reginald Marsh, Bread Line―No One Has Starved, 1932, etching and engraving, 6 15/16 × 11 7/8 in. The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens. © Estate of Reginald Marsh/ Art Students League/ Artist Rights Society (ARS), New York.

Reginald Marsh, Bread Line―No One Has Starved, 1932, etching and engraving, 6 15/16 × 11 7/8 in. The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens. © Estate of Reginald Marsh/ Art Students League/ Artist Rights Society (ARS), New York.

 


John J.A. Murphy, Shadow Boxers, 1925, woodcut, 8 × 9 in. The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens. Gift of Hannah S. Kully.

John J.A. Murphy, Shadow Boxers, 1925, woodcut, 8 × 9 in. The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens. Gift of Hannah S. Kully.

 


Benton Murdoch Spruance, Traffic Control, 1936, lithograph on woven paper, 9 × 14 3/8 in. The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens. Purchased with funds provided by Russel I. and Hannah S. Kully. Image courtesy of bentonspruance.com.

Benton Murdoch Spruance, Traffic Control, 1936, lithograph on woven paper, 9 × 14 3/8 in. The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens. Purchased with funds provided by Russel I. and Hannah S. Kully. Image courtesy of bentonspruance.com.

 


Karl F. Struss, Crowded Pier by Moonlight, Arverne, Long Island, New York, 1910–1912, sepia toned platinum print, 4 1/4 × 3 5/8 in. The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles. © 1983 Amon Carter Museum of Art, Fort Worth, Texas.

12. Karl F. Struss, Crowded Pier by Moonlight, Arverne, Long Island, New York, 1910–1912, sepia toned platinum print, 4 1/4 × 3 5/8 in. The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles. © 1983 Amon Carter Museum of Art, Fort Worth, Texas.

 


Ken Gonzalez-Day, East First Street, 2006, 3 13/16 × 6 in. Courtesy of the artist and Luis De Jesus Los Angeles.

Ken Gonzalez-Day, East First Street, 2006, 3 13/16 × 6 in. Courtesy of the artist and Luis De Jesus Los Angeles.

 

About The Huntington

The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens is a collections-based research and educational institution established in 1919 by Henry E. and Arabella Huntington. Henry Huntington, a key figure in the...

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