Street Smart: Photographs of New York City, 1945-1980

February 18, 2017 - June 4, 2017

In the decades that followed World War II, New York City became a world cultural center and was host to a whirlwind of activity: jazz music by legendary practitioners like Charlie Parker and Ella Fitzgerald, feminist and anti-war protests, Stonewall riots in Greenwich Village, and race riots in Harlem. James Baldwin once called the city “spitefully inconsistent” and Le Corbusier described it as a “beautiful catastrophe.” During the time showcased here, photographers raced around the city, capturing both cacophonous scenes of urban life and moments of quietude and respite from the chaos.

This exhibition features 30 photographs, chiefly drawn from the Bruce Museum’s permanent collection, including work by Larry Fink, Herman Leonard, Leon Levinstein, John Shearer, and Garry Winogrand. Street Smart provides a glimpse at life in the city during the post-war period and at how street-savvy New Yorkers navigated its bustling landscape.

The exhibition is curated by Mia Laufer, PhD candidate at Washington University in Saint Louis and Bruce Museum Zvi Grunberg Resident Fellow 2015-16.