The Photographs of John Vachon
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Providing a unique view of American life during the Great Depression and Second World War, each volume in the Fields of Vision series focuses on a single photographer whose vision helped shape the collective identity of America and influenced the way we look at photographs in the 21st century. All of the images in each volume are chosen from the Library of Congress’s renowned collection of Farm Security Administration (FSA) and Office of War Information (OWI) photographs.

Originally hired to the Farm Security Administration (FSA) as an assistant messenger, John Vachon (1914–1975) eventually earned a position as a staff photographer. His work for the FSA marked the beginning of a long and storied career: after serving in World War II, he worked at Standard Oil and Life magazine before joining the staff of Look magazine, where he worked for more than two decades.



Publié par
Date de parution 15 mai 2021
Nombre de lectures 0
EAN13 9781913875138
Langue English
Poids de l'ouvrage 20 Mo

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fields of vision
The Photographs of John Vachon
The approximately 175,000 film negatives and transparencies in the Library of Congress s
collection from the Farm Security Administration (FSA), later the Office of War Information (OWI),
provide a unique view of American life during the Great Depression and World War II.
This government photography project, headed by Roy E. Stryker, employed many relatively
unknown names who later became some of the twentieth-century s best-known photographers,
such as Walker Evans, Dorothea Lange, Russell Lee, Marion Post Wolcott, Arthur Rothstein, and
Carl Mydans. Initially conceived to document government loans to farmers and their subsequent
resettlement in suburban communities, the project expanded to create a visual record of
agricultural workers across the United States. Later, Stryker s photographers recorded both rural
and urban centers as the nation prepared for World War II.
Each volume in the Fields of Vision series presents fifty striking images that show how
the particular vision of these photographers helped shape the collective identity of America.
Their evocative pictures transport the viewer to American homes, farms, and streets of the
1930s and 1940s, while offering a glimpse of a new narrative and intimate style that was
later to blossom on the pages of Look and Life magazines. For many Americans of the pre-
television age, the diversity and complexity of their country was defined by the lenses of
these men and women.
Front cover illustration:
Spectators watching a parade go by, Cincinnati, Ohio, October 1938.
fields of vision
The Photographs of John Vachon

fields of vision
The Photographs of John Vachon
the library of congress, washington, d.c.
Copyright © 2021, 2010 The Library of Congress
First published in 2010 by giles
An imprint of D Giles Limited
4 Crescent Stables
139 Upper Richmond Road
London sw 15 2 tn
All rights reserved
No part of the contents of this book may be
reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or
transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic,
mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise,
without the written permission of The Library of
Congress and D Giles Limited.
For The Library of Congress:
Series Editor and Project Manager: Amy Pastan
For D Giles Limited:
Copyedited by Melissa Larner
Proofread by David Rose
Designed by Miscano, London
Produced by giles, an imprint of D Giles Limited,
Printed and bound in China
The Library of Congress is grateful for the support of
Furthermore: a program of the J.M. Kaplan Fund
The Library of Congress, Washington, D.C., in
association with giles, an imprint of D Giles Limited,
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Names: Library of Congress. Prints and Photographs
Division, author. |
Container of (work): Vachon, John, 1914-1975.
Photographs. Selections
(Library of Congress) | United States. Farm Security
sponsoring body. | United States. Office of War
Information, sponsoring
body. | Library of Congress, issuing body.
Title: The photographs of John Vachon.
Description: Washington, D.C. : The Library of
Congress, [2021] | Series:
Fields of vision | Republication of the Library of
Congress 2010 edition
with the introduction removed. | Description based
on print version record
and CIP data provided by publisher; resource not
Identifiers: LCCN 2021005162 | ISBN 9781913875138
Subjects: LCSH: Vachon, John, 1914-1975. | Library of
collections. | Documentary photography--United
States. | Portrait
photography--United States. | United States--Social
life and
customs--1918-1945--Pictorial works.
Classification: LCC TR820.5 | DDC 779--dc23 LC record
available at
Frontispiece : Newsstand, Omaha, Nebraska, November 1938.
Opposite : Daughters of a Tygart Valley homesteader, West Virginia, June 1939 (detail).
Page VI : Farm girl, Seward County, Nebraska, October 1938.

The Farm Security Administration-Office of War Information
(FSA-OWI) Collection at the Library of Congress offers a detailed
portrait of life in the United States from the years of the Great
Depression through World War II. Documenting every region
of the country, all classes of people, and focusing on the
rhythms of daily life, from plowing fields to saying prayers,
the approximately 171,000 black-and-white and 1,600 color
images allow viewers to connect personally with the 1930s and
1940s. That s what great photographs do. They capture people
and moments in time with an intimacy and grace that gently
touches the imagination. Whether it is a fading snapshot or
an artfully composed sepia print, a photograph can engage
the mind and senses much like a lively conversation. You may
study the clothes worn by the subject, examine a tangled facial
expression, or ponder a landscape or building that no longer
exists, except as captured by the photographer s lens long
ago. Soon, even if you weren t at a barbeque in Pie Town, New
Mexico, in the 1940s or picking cotton in rural Mississippi in the
1930s, you begin to sense what life there was like. You become
part of the experience.
This is the goal of Fields of Vision. Each volume presents a
portfolio of little-known images by some of America s greatest
photographers-including Russell Lee, Ben Shahn, Marion Post
Wolcott, John Vachon, Jack Delano, and Esther Bubley-allowing
readers actively to engage with the extraordinary photographic
work produced for the FSA-OWI. Many of the photographers
featured did not see themselves as artists, yet their pictures
have a visual and emotional impact that will touch you as deeply
as any great masterwork. These iconic images of Depression-
era America are very much a part of the canon of twentieth-
century American photography. Writer James Agee declared that
documentary work should capture the cruel radiance of what
is. He believed that inside each image there resided a personal
test, the hurdle of you, the would be narrator, trying to ascertain
what you truly believe is. The photographs in Fields of Vision
invite the reader to contemplate the cruel radiance that lives
in each of the images.
The fifty images presented here are just a brief road map
to the riches of the Farm Security Administration Collection.
If you like what you see, you will find more to contemplate at
our website, . The FSA-OWI collection is a public
archive. These photographs were created by government
photographers for a federally funded program. Yet, they outlived
the agency they served and exceeded its mission. Evoking the
heartbreak of a family who lost its home in the Dust Bowl or
the humiliation of segregation in the South, they transcend the
ordinary-and that is true art.
W. Ralph Eubanks
Former Director of Publishing
Library of Congress
Fields of Vision

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