See Haunting Historical Photos From the Depths of Chicago Photography Museum’s Archives

A new exhibition looks back to the past.

Diane Arbus, Two Girls in Matching Bathing Suits, Coney Island, N.Y. (1967). Image: Courtesy of Museum of Contemporary Photography
Diane Arbus, Two Girls in Matching Bathing Suits, Coney Island, N.Y. (1967).
Image: Courtesy of Museum of Contemporary Photography
Elliot Erwitt, <em>Jackie Kennedy at Funeral</em>(1963).<br>Image: Courtesy of MOCP.org</br>

Elliot Erwitt, Jackie Kennedy at Funeral(1963).
Image: Courtesy of Museum of Contemporary Photography.

As it prepares to celebrate its 40th anniversary in 2016, the Museum of Contemporary Photography (MoCP) in Chicago is digging through its archives to exhibit works by some of history’s most notable photographers. The show, “MoCP at 40”, will survey four decades of works by such artists as Diane Arbus, Gordon Parks, Sally Mann, and Andy Warhol, among others.

Spanning from the late 19th century to the 21st, the exhibition will highlight various photographic forms and techniques, from the traditional black-and-white documentary style of Walker Evans to the saturated photomontage works of Daniel Gordon, and much in between.

Gordon Parks, <em>Drinking Fountains in Mobile, Alabama</em> (1956).<br>Image: Courtesy of Museum of Contemporary Photography</br>

Gordon Parks, Drinking Fountains in Mobile, Alabama (1956).
Image: Courtesy of Museum of Contemporary Photography.

The exhibition will also include portfolios of artists from the Midwest Photographer’s Project, an initiative launched in 1982 dedicated to showcasing the works of well- and lesser-known photographers from the Midwestern United States.

While the show is intended more as a celebratory retrospective of the museum’s growth since its founding in 1976, , it does raise questions of what a “contemporary” institution is to do as it ages. It draws to mind Le Corbusier’s Museum of Unlimited Growth, a Utopian plan for a museum that could grow with time, archiving the past and present simultaneously and infinitely.

If “contemporary” institutions want to appreciate the current day and not mummify it like they have the “Modern” era, perhaps they should look around more, rather than looking back.

However, the images below show how far photography has progressed in the past four decades, capturing moments in history, more quotidian times, and, later, forays into image-making and manipulation. Scroll down for a preview of what the MoCP will have on display for their 40th birthday.

Carrie Mae Weems, Untitled #2451 (1990). Image: Courtesy of Museum of Contemporary Photography

Carrie Mae Weems, Untitled #2451 (1990).
Image: Courtesy of Museum of Contemporary Photography.

Sally Mann, Candy Cigarette (1989). Image: Courtesy of Museum of Contemporary Photography.

Sally Mann, Candy Cigarette (1989).
Image: Courtesy of Museum of Contemporary Photography.

William Wegman, Caribbean Ant Eater, (1988). Image: Courtesy of Museum of Contemporary Photography

William Wegman, Caribbean Ant Eater, (1988).
Image: Courtesy of Museum of Contemporary Photography.

Diane Arbus, Two Girls in Matching Bathing Suits, Coney Island, N.Y. (1967). Image: Courtesy of Museum of Contemporary Photography

Diane Arbus, Two Girls in Matching Bathing Suits, Coney Island, N.Y. (1967).
Image: Courtesy of Museum of Contemporary Photography.

Daniel Gordon, <em>July 22, 2009</em>(2009).<br>Image: Courtesy of MOCP.org</br>

Daniel Gordon, July 22, 2009 (2009).
Image: Courtesy of Museum of Contemporary Photography.

Andy Warhol, Cindy Pritzker, (1982). Image: Courtesy of Museum of Contemporary Photography

Andy Warhol, Cindy Pritzker, (1982).
Image: Courtesy of Museum of Contemporary Photography.

Carl Mydans, Interior of Mt. Gilead (colored) school on area of Plantation Piedmont agricultural demonstration project. Near Eatonton, Georgia, June-July (1936). Image: Courtesy of Museum of Contemporary Photography

Carl Mydans, Interior of Mt. Gilead (colored) school on area of Plantation Piedmont agricultural demonstration project. Near Eatonton, Georgia, June-July (1936).
Image: Courtesy of Museum of Contemporary Photography.


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