From the Annals of our Past: Artist and his Time
Curated by Regina Khidekel
The Harriman Institute of Columbia University
420 West 118th Street, 12th Floor
On view from: October 12, 2010 to January 15, 2011
The Max Penson exhibition is a continuation of the RACC's successful collaboration with the Harriman Institute of Columbia University, which has also hosted exhibitions of such oustanding photographers as Horst Tappe, Peggy Kaplan, Leonid Lubianitsky, and Yuriy Shalamov, among others.
Max Penson was a seminal figure of the Russian Constructivist movement. His photographs have the narrative impact of photo journalism, yet they utilize distinctly avant garde aesthetic elements in their use of light, sharp angles, and contrast. Penson's use of such avant garde techniques parallels those of the leading artists of the day, such as Alexander Rodchenko and Boris Ignatovich.
The Max Penson exhibit will showcase 20 works from 1925-1945, which exemplify the best of 20th Century Russian avant garde tradition. These works document historical events, and share the spirit of enthusiasm and idealization of Soviet life that was common for his time. Penson nevertheless earned Stalin's disapproval, which led to the artist's emotional breakdown and decades of oblivion of his artistic heritage.
Max Penson participated in the 1937 World Exhibition in Paris, where he won the Grand Prix Award for Uzbek Madonna, a portrait of a young Uzbek woman, publicly nursing her child. Sergei Eisenstein, who met Penson in 1940, said of him: "There cannot be many masters left who choose a specific terrain for their work, dedicate themselves completely to and make it an integrated part of their personal destiny. It is, for instance, virtually impossible to speak about the city of Fergana without mentioning the omnipresent Penson who traveled all over Uzbekistan with his camera. His unparalleled photo archives contain material that enables us to trace a period in the republic's history, year by year and page by page".
Event Listing - Columbia, SIPA (School of International and Public Affairs)