One Talking Picture

One Talking Picture

1929, printed 1949

Ralph Steiner

(American, 1899-1986)

Gelatin silver contact print

Paper: 17.8 x 22.9 cm (7 x 9 in.); Matted: 50.8 x 40.6 cm (20 x 16 in.)

Gift of Therese and Murray Weiss 2012.76



Posters for events with limited runs like the circus, slapped up on the sides of buildings, provided a constantly refreshed display of images on city walls and a compelling subject for Ralph Steiner and his friend and pupil Walker Evans. Steiner contrasts the excitement of the silver screen with a grim aspect of urban life: trash. He shows us posters, torn from walls at the end of the show’s run, left on the ground below; passersby have added objects to the heap. Evans, too, emphasizes the poster’s ephemerality. He reveals its torn edge and has selected a camera angle and a moment when the lighting accentuates the thinness of the cloth or paper.

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