Douglas Nickel American Photographs Revisited Thesis

Pages: 4 (1107 words)  ·  Style: MLA  ·  Bibliography Sources: 0  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Communication - Journalism

American Photographs Revisited, Douglas R. Nickel explores the impact of Walker Evans and the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) publication. The book deserves accolades as a true "masterpiece," notes Nickel, because of the groundbreaking layout and publishing techniques used to present Evans' images. However, Nickel claims that American Photographs is important as a historiography too because of the social and political commentary that is naturally and purposefully embedded in the Walker Evans collection. Introducing the book, Nickel claims that it was heralded as "the prototypical sequential photographic layout," a type of "concerned documentary," and "the culmination of an American aesthetic tradition," (p. 79). Nickel deftly articulates the political content etched into Evans' work, showing how photography became an essential part of the journalistic media. Photojournalism remains central to a free press, and is not merely a means to enhance written content.Download full Download Microsoft Word File
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Thesis on Douglas Nickel American Photographs Revisited Assignment

The bulk of "American Photographs Revisited" focuses on the fusion of photography and politics in Walker Evans' work. Evans' photographs captured scenes of American life during the Great Depression and therefore unearthed hidden social and political ills that threatened the American Dream. By capturing life during the Depression, Evans was able to make strong political statements about proposals for change without stating his views overtly in words. In fact, Evans distanced himself from politics and avoided political alliances, notes Nickel. Nickel also states that Evans was mainly concerned with aesthetic photo documentation. The prose content of American Photographs was provided by Lincoln Kirstein had definite political overtones, though. Moreover, the New Deal sponsorship of the arts made Evans' work possible and therefore hinted at a possible political motive to the collection. Their upper class background and higher education helped both Kirstein and Evans elevate photography to a level the media had not previously achieved. Kirstein also created an image for Evans that was far more political than the photographer himself envisioned. The result was a commingling of scholarship, journalism, art, and activism.

Nickel's assessment proves the validity of Photojournalism as a timeless art and science. Evans' work documented with stunning visual accuracy the extent of the great Depression as well as the result of rapid industrialization on the United States. Nickel's analysis can be applied to any collection of photojournalism. Moreover, Nickel elucidates the relationship between photographer and editors and publishers. Photographers like Evans are often crafted or molded by an editorial vision. Staff and freelance photographers working for large print media have full reign over their art, but the editorial staff ultimately decides what content to publish. When textual evidence supports the photographic material, the possibility for political bias becomes strong. As ideally objective as journalism is, the human factor is always a part of the editorial decision-making process. When Evans worked with Kirstein on the MoMA project, politics was far from the photographer's artistic objectives. Yet both Evans and Kirstein embraced the photo documentation as a means to disseminate information about the state of the union. Modern photojournalism, combined with amateur photo and video footage made more possible by technological advancements, brings information to the public in ways written media cannot. Photos speak a universal language; photos are singular snapshots of moments in time. Photos do not lie.

Photojournalism is, as Nickel suggests, not neutral. It would be impossible to capture scenes like those Evans did on film and not… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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