“What strange phenomena we find in a great city, all we need do is stroll about with our eyes open,” said the French poet Charles Baudelaire in 1869. During the 19th century, the Industrial Revolution caused large urban centers to grow as never before. Artists were fascinated by tall steel buildings, dense traffic, and bustling crowds, where the city street transformed into a theater stage of anonymous actors.
Although this gallery includes paintings, engravings, and posters, it is mainly organized around works in lens-based mediums from MoMA’s collection. Works made in Paris, New York, San Francisco, Guangzhou, London, and Wuppertal show how the newly invented technologies of photography and cinema were well-suited to creating a spontaneous, dynamic representation of the modern city.
Organized by Oluremi Onabanjo, Associate Curator, and Clément Chéroux, former Joel and Anne Ehrenkranz Chief Curator of Photography, with Kaitlin Booher, Beaumont and Nancy Newhall Curatorial Fellow, Antoinette Roberts, Curatorial Assistant, and Dana Ostrander, former Curatorial Assistant, Department of Photography.