"Black and white are the colors of photography," Robert Frank once famously said. "To me they symbolize the alternatives of hope and despair to which mankind is forever subjected."
Frank, along with 20th century icons like Bill Brandt, Man Ray, Tina Modotti and Weegee all had this in common -- a shared reverence for the monochromatic medium of early photography.
A new exhibit at Jerusalem's Israel Museum is reconsidering the careers of nearly 100 photographers of the black-and-white realm, but with an eye toward another shared characteristic. "Displaced Visions: Émigré Photographers of the 20th Century" will focus on the roles of these historic figures as immigrant artists, documenting their new homes in personal, captivating ways.
Ellen Auerbach, "Eliot Porter in New York," 1957, Gelatin silver print, The Israel Museum, Jerusalem, Gift of Dr. Seth Neubardt, New Jersey, to American Friends of the Israel Museum, VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn, 2013.
Frank and company captured the unfamiliar through avant-garde art, exploring new territories and peoples with their cameras in tow. Not quite the traveling photojournalists of the 19th century, nor the expatriate characters of a Hemingway novel, these photographers uprooted themselves, often out of necessity, and were faced with the task of adapting to unknown places they hoped to make their home.
With displacement as the theme, the Israel Museum has selected over 220 images that reflect the experience of an emigre artist. Interacting with architecture and onlookers in various ways, the snapshots tend to project the perspective of an outsider preoccupied with framing his or her new environments. From Ellen Auerbach's bird's-eye view prints to Germaine Krull's surreal street-side vignettes, the collection is a vast unravelling of photographic history in Paris, New York and beyond.
Scroll through the photos below for a preview of the exhibit, which runs until October 5, 2013, and let us know your thoughts on the show in the comments.