The poignant power of the Met’s African American Portraits exhibition — Quartzy


Some are sailors standing tall in uniform, others graduates in their caps and gowns. There are boys wearing their finest suits, women smiling in fur coats, and parents cradling newborns. The subjects are by and large unidentified, as are many of the photographers who captured them.

Part of an exhibition titled “African-American Portraits: Photographs from the 1940s and 1950s,” now on display at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, these 150-plus images offers a rare glimpse of the African-American experience during a defining era—World War II, the end of the Great Depression, and the dawn of civil rights.

“In the age of the smartphone, acts of self-expression are at one’s fingertips 24/7,” says Jeff Rosenheim, curator of the department of photographs at The Met….

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