New at CCP
New acquisitions at the Center
Shelby Lee Adams (b. 1950) discovered documentary photography as a high school student in Hazard, Kentucky, when the Peace Corps sent a film crew to his town to record conditions of poverty in Appalachia. He was introduced to the work of the Depression-era Farm Security Administration photographers while studying at the Cleveland Institute of Art and was inspired to apply their documentary style to the people and culture of his native Appalachia. Since 1973, Adams has revisited families and individuals in a seven-county region of Kentucky. Adams forges close friendships with his subjects, working cooperatively with each to shape their portraits and distributing his photographs and books to them. Adams is the recipient of a survey grant and photography fellowship from the National Endowment of the Arts and four consecutive artist support grants from the Polaroid Corporation. He has published four books, most recently Salt and Truth (Candela, 2011).
From our Chief Curator: The photographs of Shelby Lee Adams, fully participatory and often elaborately choreographed, challenge the notion of objective truth associated with the documentary mode. They transcend the status of pure records, instead offering an evocation of both the photographer’s experience and that of his subjects. This acquisition will extend and enrich the Center’s strong holdings of documentary photography, which include representation of several of Adams’s progenitors in the Farm Security Administration and the archives of The Photo League, Milton Rogovin, Marion Palfi, and Louis Carlos Bernal. The archive will consist of a comprehensive group of images from the Photographer’s published books, negatives of each image, contact sheets, Polaroids, publications, and field notes from his photo sessions.
Image: Shelby Lee Adams, Donnie with Boys & Cows, 1999
Joan Liftin (b. 1935) is a photographer, photo editor, and educator. After studying modern dance, Liftin completed a BA in journalism and began her career in photography as a photo editor at UNICEF. Upon leaving the UN in 1975, Liftin joined the staff of Magnum Photos and served as the director of the Magnum Photo Library for five years. In 1981, Liftin co-founded Archive Pictures along with fellow photojournalists Mark Godfrey, Abigail Heyman, Mary Ellen Mark, and Charles Harbutt, Liftin’s Husband, whose archive is also housed at the Center. For over a decade, Liftin led the documentary photography and photojournalism program at the International Center of Photography. She has published two books: Drive-ins (Trolley Books, 2004) and Marseille (Damiani, 2016). Her third, Water for Tears, is forthcoming from Damiani Ltd. in 2018.
From our Chief Curator: The acquisition of Joan Liftin’s archive complements the rich collection of photojournalism housed at the Center, anchored by the archives of LIFE magazine photographers W. Eugene Smith, Peter Stackpole, Andreas Feininger, and Otto Hagel and Hansel Mieth. Liftin’s archive joins her husband Charles Harbutt’s at the Center, enhancing the potential for future research on couples working jointly in photojournalism. This is a rich area of potential study at the Center, as the collection includes archive materials relating to collaborative couples W. Eugene Smith and Aileen Mioko Smith and Hansel Mieth and Otto Hagel. Her archive consists of fine print photographs and project files that include diaries, book dummies, publications, negatives, slides, and contact sheets.
Image: Joan Liftin, Man Behind Bush, Nafplion, Greece, 1977
William Silano (1934-2014) was a celebrated fashion photographer, known for his surrealistic images and bright, Pop-inspired palette. Silano was introduced to photography by his older brother George Silano, a documentary filmmaker who gave his younger brother his first how-to photography manual and later encouraged him to take a photography course with Alexey Brodovitch, the famed art director of Harper’s Bazaar. On a trip to Europe, William Silano visited Paris, where he made valuable connections in the publishing world and had his first photographs published. Upon returning to New York in 1966, Silano began his decades-long relationship with Harper’s Bazaar. His work appeared on many Harper’s Bazaar covers, in the pages of Italian, French, and British Vogue, French Elle, Mademoiselle, Town and Country, and Glamour, and on album covers for Simon & Garfunkle and Pink Floyd. Silano’s pioneering use of non-naturalistic color and distorted perspective and his embrace of a psychedelic, space-age aesthetic helped redefine fashion photography in the late 1960s and early ‘70s.
From our Chief Curator: This acquisition adds depth and dimension to the Center’s growing fashion photography collection, which is anchored by the archive of Harper’s Bazaar photographer Louise Dahl-Wolfe and a strong Richard Avedon collection. The addition of the William Silano archive to the Center’s already deep fashion holdings strengthens the collection’s potential for multidisciplinary scholarship in areas as diverse as cultural studies, marketing, and gender and women’s studies. The archive includes biographical materials, retouched engravers used for publications, 35mm color transparency slides, copies of the publications in which Silano’s work appeared, and color and black-and-white prints.
William Silano, untitled, c. 1970
John Yang (1933-2009), an architect by trade, had a lifelong dedication to photography. His subjects included the architecture and streets of New York City and its suburbs as well as the landscape of the Hudson Valley. John Yang grew up admiring first the Pictorialists and later the adherents of straight photography, whose work he discovered through MoMA publications. While attending Harvard, Yang traveled to California to take a course with Minor White, where he learned view camera technique and Ansel Adams’s Zone System. Yang entered professional practice as an architect and made pictures for himself when he could, which eventually led to an acquisition by MoMA and the inclusion of his work in exhibitions there and at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. In 1978, Yang retired from his architectural practice and devoted himself to photography, using traditional camera equipment and historic darkroom processes. Yang published two books of his photographs, Over the Door: The Ornamental Stonework of New York (Princeton Architectural Press, 1995) and Mount Zion: Sepulchral Portraits (D.A.P., 2001).
From our Chief Curator: The addition of John Yang’s archive to the Center’s collection will deepen future scholars’ understanding of the Modernist legacy, promoted through publications; courses, workshops and technical manuals dedicated to photographic craft; and through the curatorial programs of American museums. Yang absorbed Modernist ideas through these outlets and carried them forward, bringing to bear his training as an architect and drafter to produce an exquisite body of photographic work. Yang’s archive includes exhibition prints from all major bodies of work, negatives and related printing instructions, correspondence, his personally collected reference materials, and exhibition-related documentation.
Image: John Yang, untitled, 1980