A new exhibition of street photography, “Street Seen: The Psychological Gesture in American Photography, 1940–1959,” at the Milwaukee Art Museum, brings together work by photographers ranging from Henri Cartier-Bresson and Walker Evans to Helen Levitt, W. Eugene Smith, and Weegee; it also includes paintings by Willem de Kooning, Franz Kline, Jackson Pollock, and Richard Pousette-Dart—all of whom were making images during and immediately after World War II. “Abstract Expressionism, film noir, Beat poetry, and the New Journalism are all widely recognized aftershocks of World War II,” writes Lisa Hostetler in the catalog of the exhibition. “It is time to add the ‘psychological gesture in photography’ to the list.” These photographs, with their emphasis on mood and atmosphere, and their exploration of blurred motion, shadows, and solitary figures, are very different from images made before the war.
On view through April 25, “Street Seen” focuses on six photographers in particular: Lisette Model, Louis Faurer, Ted Croner, Saul Leiter, Robert Frank, and William Klein—whose Man under El, New York, from 1955, appears in the March 25 issue of The New York Review. The catalog has just been published by the Milwaukee Art Museum with DelMonico Books and Prestel.