The book can't recreate the experience of the exhibition itself, which was like nothing I'd ever seen before. "Enlarged, often mural scale images, angled, floated or curved, some even displayed on the ceiling, were grouped together according to diverse themes." (Wikipedia) I remember being drawn hither and yon, desperate not to miss anything.
The poet Carl Sandburg wrote the introduction, including, in his unashamedly lush language, these words:
- "If the human face is "the masterpiece of God" it is here then in a thousand fateful registrations. Often the faces speak that words can never say. Some tell of eternity and others only the latest tattings. Child faces of blossom smiles or mouths of hunger are followed by homely faces of majesty carved and worn by love, prayer and hope, along with others light and carefree as thistledown in a late summer wing. Faces have land and sea on them, faces honest as the morning sun flooding a clean kitchen with light, faces crooked and lost and wondering where to go this afternoon or tomorrow morning. Faces in crowds, laughing and windblown leaf faces, profiles in an instant of agony, mouths in a dumbshow mockery lacking speech, faces of music in gay song or a twist of pain, a hate ready to kill, or calm and ready-for-death faces. Some of them are worth a long look now and deep contemplation later."
Dorothea Lange's Migrant Mother (1936)
(The photos I picked at random are by Elliott Erwitt, Eiju Oraki, Wayne Miller, Gitel Steed, W. Eugene Smith, Dorothea Lange, Al Chang, Jean Marquis, Musya S. Sheeler, Gjon Mili - just a few of the 273 photographers and 503 images that make up this amazing collective work of art.)