Twentieth Century Americans

National Art Gallery has collected a lot of interesting photographs which demonstrate the reality of our life and identity of the American people. Photographs are unique pieces of art highlighted the very image of life. Photographs show that historical events have a great impact on self-identity of the nation and its cultural values. Capitalism and labor relations are the main factor which determined American identity and relations between people and the world. My favorite photographs are Monterey 1967 by Lewis Baltz, Lathe by Paul Strand and Cigarette No 12 by Irving Penn.

The first photograph impresses me with simplicity and unique vision of our reality. Lathe by Paul Strand portrays capitalistic reality, values and beliefs on its citizens through the practices, structures, and institutions of the society. Cigarette No 12 symbolically describes American identity shaped by capitalist elations and accumulation of wealth as the only possible tools to conquer the continent and prosper in foreign lands. Monterey 1967 by Lewis Baltz is my favorite photograph portraying a white luxurious car on a very simple urban background. The theme of survival is unveiled through the themes of loneliness and isolation. The importance of these settings is that they reflect inner feelings of the characters and help viewers to understand intentions and real emotions experienced by the main heroes.

Lathe by Paul Strand portrays a lathe with bench-vice. Similar to other photographs, this one describes capitalist modes of production and labor relations dominated in the American society. These relations determine national identity and legalized wealth accumulation and exploitation of low social classes. Cigarette No 12 depicts a burnt pack pf cigarette. This photograph seems to say viewers that Americans must realize that they benefit not only from the many proud accomplishments of their ancestors but also from their capitalistic desires for wealth and money. In all photographs, the specific setting is not meant to be restrictive: For the viewer, the photographers create a kind of moral ambience or atmosphere of the 20th century America.



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