Picturing Protest Captures Era of Upheaval 50 Years Ago in the U.S.

Distributed June 12, 2018

Gordon Parks, American, 1912–2006, for LIFE magazine, Untitled, March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, Washington, D.C., August 28, 1963, printed 2016. Inkjet print. Museum purchase, Hugh Leander Adams, Mary Trumbull Adams, and Hugh Trumbull Adams Princeton Art Fund. © The Gordon Parks Foundation.PRINCETON, N.J. – The civil rights movement and the movement against the U.S. war in Vietnam came to a head in the 1960s, inspiring protests across the country. Fifty years after the watershed events of 1968, Picturing Protest examines the visual framing of political demonstrations around the country and on Princeton’s campus. At a time when the coverage and circulation of news media were rapidly expanding, many of these photographs became icons of social struggle, fundamentally changing the ways people have visualized the United States ever since. Drawn from Princeton University collections, the images on view compel us to contemplate the capacity of protest, and of art, to imagine, interpret and cultivate change.            

       Picturing Protest is curated by Juliana Dweck, Mellon Curator of Academic Engagement at the Princeton University Art Museum, and is made possible by the Anne C. Sherrerd, Graduate School Class of 1987, Art Museum Fund. It will be on view at the Museum from May 26 through Oct. 14, 2018.

       “The 1960s saw the voices of protest rise and cascade around the country,” said James Steward, Nancy A. Nasher–David J. Haemisegger, Cass of 1976, Director. “Through this exhibition, the Museum investigates the visual culture of protest 50 years on with an eye towards better understanding the power of photography as a medium for both documenting protest and sometimes participating in it.”

      Fred W. McDarrah, American, 1925–2007, for The Village Voice, Demonstrators at the Women’s Strike for Equality, New York City, August 26, 1970. Gelatin silver print. Gift of the Estate of Fred W. McDarrah. © Estate of Fred W. McDarrah / Getty Images. Picturing Protest presents some 35 works – photographs, video and prints – by a wide range of artists, including both photojournalists and activists acting as photographers. The exhibition also features archival photographs from Princeton University’s Seeley G. Mudd Manuscript Library in a section devoted to student anti-war demonstrations on Princeton’s campus.

    Robert Rauschenberg, American, 1925–2008, No. 48, from Surface Series From Currents, 1970. Screenprint. Gift of Arthur A. Goldberg. © Robert Rauschenberg Foundation / Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY / photo Bruce M. White.   The images in the exhibition document protests from the civil rights, anti-Vietnam War, feminist and gay rights movements from 1960 to 1970. Among the charged scenes are demonstrators in conflict with police in Birmingham, Alabama, in 1963 by Charles Moore; a student vigil at Princeton following the death of Martin Luther King Jr. in 1968; Gordon Parks’s photograph of the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, which appeared in Life magazine; Fred McDarrah’s images of supporters of the women’s liberation movement from 1970; and John Filo’s searing images of a student protester slain on the Kent State University campus in 1970.

      Bill Pierce, for Princeton Alumni Weekly, Washington peace demonstration, November 15, 1969. Gelatin silver print. University Archives, Princeton University Library. In addition to riveting examples of photojournalism from the era, well-known artists such as Andy Warhol, Robert Rauschenberg and Richard Hamilton re-present images of protest through collage, film and printmaking to comment on the ways that the media was conditioning the public’s understanding of violence, power and race.

       A concurrent installation at the Princeton University Art Museum, Photography and Belonging, explores issues of migration, inclusion and exclusion, with special attention to the work of three photographers: Lewis Hine's images of early 20th-century immigrants in New York; Roman Vishniac's portrayal of European Jewish communities in the years before the Holocaust; and Fazal Sheikh's collaborative portraits of displaced persons in recent decades.

About the Princeton University Art Museum

       With a collecting history that extends back to 1755, the Princeton University Art Museum is one of the leading university art museums in the country, with collections that have grown to include over 100,000 works of art ranging from ancient to contemporary art and spanning the globe.

       Committed to advancing Princeton’s teaching and research missions, the Art Museum also serves as a gateway to the University for visitors from around the world. Intimate in scale yet expansive in scope, the Museum offers a respite from the rush of daily life, a revitalizing experience of extraordinary works of art and an opportunity to delve deeply into the study of art and culture.

       The Princeton University Art Museum is located at the heart of the Princeton campus, a short walk from the shops and restaurants of Nassau Street. Admission is free. Museum hours are Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Thursday 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.; and Sunday 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. The Museum is closed Mondays and major holidays.

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