Sontag: America, Darkly


Edward Steichen a "Whitmanesque" photographer who broke with that tradition with his milk bottle (page twenty-eight). 


Please reference Walt Whitman's Leaves of Grass.

A scene from Frank Capra's 1934 movie It Happened one Night.



Alfred Stieglitz was another early twentieth century photographer in Sontag's "Whitmanesque" category. One of his best-known photographs on the left is also mentioned by Barthes in Camera Lucida. He and the great painter Georgia O'Keeffe (on the right) were an item.  


Lewis Hine's work prefigures Walker Evans and helped bring about child labor legislation in the United States (page twenty-nine). 

 Walker Evans "was the last photographer to work seriously and assuredly in a mood deriving from Whitman's euphoric humanism, summing up what had gone before, (for instance Lewis Hines's stunning photographs of immigrants and workers), anticipating the much cooler, ruder, bleaker photography that has been done since..." pages twenty-nine and thirty.


"The last sigh of the Whitmanesque erotic embrace of the nation... ...may be the Family of Man exhibit organized in 1955 by Edward Steichen." p.31 This show and subsequent books  remain hugely popular. 

 "It was not until seventeen years later that photography again attracted such crowds at The Museum of Modern Art" in New York City. p.32 Many of the Diane Arbus photographs Sontag mentions on pages thirty-four through thirty-six are here. They are mostly in the order of Sontag's description. 

A short video about Arbus and her work is here.


An excellent article from The Guardian is here:  Diane Arbus: Humanist or Voyeur?


A "best of" collection, including extensive captions is here.


A collection of self-portraits is here, including one of Arbus.



The scene from Tod Browning's Freaks that Sontag mentions on page thirty-eight.


Arbus describes "a kind of combat death: having trespassed certain limits, she fell in a psychic ambush, a casualty to her own candor and curiosity" (page thirty-nine).


More examples and Arbus's and Weegee's work (page forty-six) may be found by searching the International Center of Photography (ICP) website.