Collection in Focus: Action Portraits

Take a closer look at three “action portraits” from the Morgan’s 20th-century photography collection with Joel Smith, the Richard L. Menschel Curator of Photography. Listen as Joel shares his insights on these dynamic images!

The camera has played many overlapping roles in the history of artful communication on the page. A defining visual practice of the modern age, photography has exerted an ever-evolving influence as a medium of fine, commercial, and folk art; as a transformative mode of mass-market technology; and as an unparalleled means of visual documentation. The Morgan collects visually arresting photographs from fields of endeavor that the medium has helped to invent or to reinvent, including (to name but a few) advertising, art, book design, cartography, cinema, criminology, exploration, family history, glamour, journalism, medicine, politics, sports, and zoology. In these areas of activity and in others, the photograph has redefined what is beautiful, credible, memorable, shareable, and even perceptible.