Drawing from over 350 photographs by the famed photojournalist in The San Diego Museum of Art’s broad photographic collection, this exhibition explores Eisenstaedt’s observations on society from a variety of his assignments with Life magazine.
One of the most recognized photojournalists of the twentieth century, Alfred Eisenstaedt (born Dirschau, West Prussia, 1898–1995) was a master of candid photography whose widely published work informed and amused millions of Americans. Capturing sincere expressions and natural behaviors, this selection of gelatin silver prints conveys Eisenstaedt’s intimate and thoughtful impressions of a variety of social subjects from 1930 to the 1950s. These decades, known today as “The Golden Age of Photojournalism,” were an exciting and prolific period for the format, fueled by the popularity of image-heavy publications like Life. The groundbreaking magazine featured large, high quality photographs on topics that ranged from major world news to human curiosities, and reached a substantial number of readers each week. As a member of Life’s staff from its first issue in 1936 until it ceased regular publication in 1972, Eisenstaedt contributed over 2,500 photo-essays and ninety-two cover photos. In a time before television was commonplace, these photographs were instrumental in forming readers’ views of the world and exposing them to people, places, and lifestyles they could not otherwise visualize. With an inherently optimistic and affectionate perspective, Eisenstaedt’s most famous images continue to hold a significant place in cultural memory.