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Documentary Photography and the Positivist Social Gallery

Documentary Photography and the Positivist Social Gallery

Chapter:
(p.31) 1 Documentary Photography and the Positivist Social Gallery
Source:
Diane Arbus's 1960s
Author(s):
Frederick Gross
Publisher:
University of Minnesota Press
DOI:10.5749/minnesota/9780816670116.003.0002

From its inception, photographic social-panorama portraiture was invested with positivist content that, despite aesthetic shifts, remained intact until the 1960s. Engaging in an extended flashback, this chapter traces the threads of positivist, typological discourse from the 1960s back to the early twentieth century to see how deeply ingrained such discourse had become. The analysis focuses upon Arbus’s relationship to the social-panorama portraits of Robert Frank, Lisette Model, Brassaï, Walker Evans, and August Sander. Historicized collectively, portraits by these photographers exemplify the transition of positivist content in photographic portraiture from the 1920s to the postwar period.

Keywords:   Diane Arbus, women photographers, positivism, social-panorama portraiture, Robert Frank, Lisette Model, Brassaï, Walker Evans, August Sander

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