Kurt Hutton, Young Women at Fair (United Kingdom, 1938)
The interwar period was marked by ?? Kurt Hutton manages to portray this feeling of postwar lightheartedness in his photographs taken across Britain during the 1930s. Here, a group of young women enjoy themselves on a ride in one of the country’s summer fairs. The joyful expression on their faces reminds us of the legacy left behind by the Roaring Twenties in middle and upper class British society. The girl at the centre of the picture is seen standing up and flirtatiously placing her hand on the hip, while her short dress gets blown up by the wind, subtly revealing her stockings and underwear. The first half of the 20th century also represented a key moment in the history of feminist movements, most importantly regarding the British suffragette’s movement. An important step towards women’s liberation, this first-wave feminism had a considerable effect on how women dressed and the way they expressed themselves within social structures, allowing a new-found identity reflected in Hutton’s photograph.
Margarete Bourke-White (Kentucky, 1937)
Yet, behind the façade of the new level of luxurious lifestyle enjoyed only by the select few, the reality of the 1930s reflected a completely different side of the story. The Wall Street crisis of 1929, which had a massive effect worldwide, made the 1930s de decade of the Great Depression. Bourke-White’s famous photograph, showing the realities of the American life, became one of the most iconic images of the social inequalities present in American society during this decade. A group of African-Americans stands in line, waiting for relief, making the stark contrast between the advertised affluence and the reality of life as clear as day.
Henri Cartier-Bresson, Behind the Gare Saint-Lazare (France, 1932)
A beautiful photograph taken by probably the most acclaimed street photographer that ever lived. Cartier-Bresson’s acute timing and composition makes this photograph a perfect candid shot. The silhouette of a man, hastily jumping over a puddle, and the dark background show the feel that dominated Europe during the 1930s. The Great Depression, the rise of National Socialism in Germany, the threat of yet another World War. Uncertainty and fear looms around.
Robert Capa, The Falling Soldier (Spain, 1936)
Taken by one of the greatest war photographers of all time during the Spanish Civil War, this photograph depicts the moment that a Republican soldier is hit by a bullet. The instant of death captured in a timeless moment.
Dimtri Baltermants (Crimea, 1942)
176 000 civilians were slaughtered by the German Army in the Crimea in 1942. Baltermants shot this photograph of mourners looking for their dead amidst a sea of bodies, capturing one of the most striking images of World War II.
Joe Rosenthal (Iwo Jima, 1945), Yevgeni Khaldei (Berlin, 1945)
The moment of victory for the Allied forces finally came in May 1945. It marked the end of a conflict of epic proportions, the bloodiest war fought in the whole history of humanity. In little over a decade, around 60 million people lost their lives. The cooperation between some of the most powerful nations on earth was necessary to finally defeat the Nazi regime in 1945. Ironically, after the end of the war, the Allies would quickly start to drift apart into two major blocks, with the USA and the Soviet Union at the helm of each side. The second half of the century would be dominated by the ultimate ideological conflict between East and West.
Robert Doisneau (Paris, 1945)
That Parisian way of life beautifully captured in a perfectly timed moment. It is hard to find a photograph so full of character and life, a picture so subtly composed to show the joy of a Parisian weekend just after the liberation of the capital and the end of the war.