Depression-era photographs are in color

Art

September 11, 2005|By NEW YORK TIMES NEWS SERVICE

Americans are accustomed to looking at the Depression in black and white. But a more vibrant nation appears in an exhibition of 70 color photographs now on view in Washington at the Library of Congress. Culled from a collection of little-known color images by photographers from the federal Farm Security Administration and the Office of War Information, the prints bring alive everyday rural life from 1939 through 1943.

Among the scenes in the exhibition "Bound for Glory: America in Color, 1939-1943" are five girls in pink dresses at a Vermont state fair; a woman from Pie Town, N.M., displaying a quilt she made; and square dancers in Oklahoma.

"There were questions for years about whether color photography was truly art," Beverly W. Brannan, the library's curator for prints and photographs, said. "They were not taken as seriously as black-and-white images."

Last year, the Library of Congress published "Bound for Glory" (Harry N. Abrams), a book of 175 images that yielded pictures for the exhibit. "You always thought of your grandparents in black and white," Brannan said, "but here they are in color."

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