Picturing the World in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction: Chicago’s Image Factories at the Center of the Continent
One of Chicago’s significant industries of the twentieth century was commercial printing; within that industry, image printing became increasingly important by the second half of the century. This industry’s history is richly documented through archives like the Newberry’s Curt Teich Postcard Archives Collection, and the R.R. Donnelley & Sons Archive at the University of Chicago. The Teich Company produced millions of postcards, and Donnelley & Sons printed Life magazine. The corpus of Teich Company postcards and the run of Life magazines printed in Chicago both present opportunities to explore photomechanical reproduction as a practice, industry, and form of visual culture.
Photos of Style and Dignity: Woodard’s Studio and the Delivery of Black Modern Subjectivity
For this presentation, I will address the development of black modern subjectivity as presented in the work of Woodard’s Studios, an understudied photography studio active during the 1920s through the 1940s with franchises in Chicago, New York and Kansas City. With subjects ranging from female impersonators such as Bonnie Clark to activist Ida B. Wells-Barnett, Woodard’s Studios shaped the look of the New Negro as represented in the era’s burgeoning black media. Evoking Leigh Raiford’s conception of “critical black memory,” I will outline how photographers at Woodard’s Studio utilized the portrait’s unique capacity of supporting intervention in the classifications and subjugation of black life.
Respondent: Han-Chi (Peter) Wang, Temple University
The American Art and Visual Culture Seminar is part of Art Design Chicago, an exploration of Chicago’s art and design legacy, an initiative of the Terra Foundation for American Art with presenting partner The Richard H. Driehaus Foundation.