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Wednesday, 1 September 2010

Arthur Rothstein: A Sign of the Times


Image, Source: b&w film copy neg. of print

Sign, Birmingham, Alabama
: photo by Arthur Rothstein, February, 1937 (Farm Security Administration/Office of War Information Collection, Library of Congress)


Elmo St. Rose said...

the concept of a prosperous
middle class, for many a dream,
in the midst of a depression

even in Alabama, a relatively
poor state, at the time,
a dream of some prosperity
as corny as it might seem now
was to become well sought after
and materialize in the 50's

the story leaves out that
wealth in Alabama, at the time,
depended on a system of cheap
labor, enforced by a racial
apartheid like system

though in America points of
love always break through

Helen Keller

Forest Gump

a southern rock group:
"Wall street fell
but we were so poor
we couldn't tell"

TC said...


About that system, see:

Jack Delano: Funeral in Georgia


Jack Delano: Hard Times in the Mill (A Death in Georgia)

colourmebeautiful said...

Nice to see your blog. This is one of my favorite photos by my father, Arthur Rothstein. He always said a picture is worth a thousand words. In fact, he had a book called,"Words and Pictures" check it out. Eve Roth Lindsay (nee Rothstein)

TC said...

Thank you very much for your comment.

Your father's wonderful FSA work has appeared here previously. The famous 1936 Cimarron Dust Bowl shot is the fourth image down from the top here:

Problems of Life: Wittgenstein

And a less well known 1938 shot -- two children building a model airplane at a Texas FSA camp (colour) -- is the top image here:


The poet Aram Saroyan has reminded me that his father, William Saroyan, worked with your father on the 1967 book "Look at Us..."

I found this note in New York Magazine, September 30, 1985, p. 26, quoting William Saroyan on your father's work:

"His [Rothstein's] work is straight, not arty. At their best, however, his pictures are works of art."

That is certainly true, and perfectly put.

(In case you're inrerested, here is the New York magazine link.)