The American city of the 1960s and 1970s experienced seismic physical changes and social transformations, from urban decay and political protests to massive highways that threatened vibrant neighborhoods. Nowhere was this sense of crisis more evident than in the country’s three largest cities: New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles. Yet in this climate of uncertainty and upheaval, the streets and neighborhoods of these cities offered places where a host of different actors—photographers, artists, filmmakers, planners, and activists—could transform these conditions of crisis into opportunities for civic discourse and creative expression.
The City Lost and Found is the first exhibition to explore this seminal period through the emergence of new photographic and cinematic practices that reached from the art world to the pages of Life magazine. Instead of aerial views and sweeping panoramas, photographers and filmmakers turned to in-depth studies of streets, pedestrian life, neighborhoods, and seminal urban events, like Bruce Davidson’s two-year study of a single block in Harlem, East 100th Street (1966–68). These new forms of photography offered the public a complex image of urban life and experience while also allowing architects, planners, and journalists to imagine and propose new futures for American cities.
This exhibition has been curated by Alison Fisher, Assistant Curator of Architecture, Department of Architecture and Design, The Art Institute of Chicago. Alison was a recipient of SAH's 2013 Award for Excellence in Architectural Stewardship. She has been a member of SAH since 2006.
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