Monday, March 9, 2009

1949 - A Great Year for Homer Page

(Above) New York, June 18, 1949 (Click any image for larger view)
(Above) New York, September 9, 1949
(Above) New York, 1949
(Above) New York, May 11, 1949 (Click any image for larger view)

(Above) New York, June 18, 1949
(Above) New York, August 11, 1949
(Above) This is the book that is available with the Guggenheim works of Homer Page.

A FEW WEEKS AGO WHEN WE WERE IN KANSAS CITY, we stopped by the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art to see the fabulous photo collection there. It is outstanding.

On special exhibit was the exhibition of Homer Page, a man who received a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1949. I had never heard of him.

Page studied art and social psychology at the University of California from 1936 to 1940 and worked in the Bay Area shipyards during the war. He took up photography in 1944 with the encouragement of his neighbor and friend, none other than the famed photographer Dorothea Lange. He advanced quickly, ending up with an exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in 1947.

After winning his Guggenheim in late 1948, Page went the following year to NYC to make photographs. It was a monumental year, as I witnessed in this exhibition of his work. And though he gained some fame and recognition for this work, he turned to shooting for magazines after that. In fact, it was precisely because of this that Page dropped somewhat off the art world’s radar screen. Adding to his slide into obscurity, Page rarely let any of his Guggenheim photos out of his hands. Upon his death in 1985, he was remembered only by a small circle of professional peers. To a younger generation of art historians, photographers, curators and collectors—he was essentially unknown.

Nelson-Atkins photography curator Keith F. Davis wrote that “the importance of Page’s Guggenheim work is a result of booth its form and content. Stylistically, his photographs represent a crucial missing link between the warm, humanistic socially motivated documentary work of the1930s and early 1940s (as seen in the work of Dorothea Lange), and the tougher, moodier, grittier work of the later 1950s (exemplified by Robert Frank). In Page’s photographs, we find, in essence, a previously unknown bridge between these very different artistic eras.”

Though Page may be largely unknown to a newer generation of Americans—the Guggenheim Foundation can rest assured that the money granted to Homer Page in 1949 was well spent.


Kim and David said...

Love Homer Page - great cover shot! Kim

Tattered and Lost said...

Thanks for exposing me to a photographer I'd never heard of. I might have seen his work, but like character actors, a lot of the time the face is familiar but you just don't know the name.

Tom Hurley said...

Really powerful images. The boys taunting the dress form remind me of my youth when bluejeans came in waist sizes only; you had to roll up the legs to fit.

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