Four Portfolios of the Twentieth-Century: Archipenko, Gropper, Evans, and Doisneau

July 16-November 13
Museum of Fine Arts, St. Petersburg, FL

We bring together two lithographic and two photographic portfolios by four important artists. The portfolios by Alexander Archipenko and Robert Doisneau are European, while those of the photographer Walker Evans and artist William Gropper are decidedly American.

Archipenko’s Sixteen Lithographs, known as the Wasmuth portfolio (1921), is an outstanding early body of work. Commissioned by the noted publisher Ernst Wasmuth of Berlin, the prints were created soon after the modernist sculptor departed from the Paris art world and broke with the Cubists.

Gropper’s portfolio of color lithographs, the Watergate Suite (1973), was given to the Museum in 2010 and is being shown for the first time. Gropper was a social realist whose art came of age during the Great Depression. Here he addresses the congressional hearings on the Watergate scandal, which led to Richard Nixon’s resignation.

Doisneau’s photographs capture Paris and its environs from 1944-1972. They reveal his love for the city, as well as his abundant sense of humor and humanity. Among the 15 images is his famous Kiss of the Hôtel de Ville (1950). Doisneau’s photographs have been instrumental in creating the vision of Paris in the popular imagination.

Evans’s posthumously published portfolio contains some of his earliest photographs, including a rarely-printed image of the Brooklyn Bridge (about 1928). The 14 others include signature photographs of the South, created under the auspices of the Works Progress Administration (WPA) during the 1930s, as well as works from the late stage of his career. These diverse portfolios encourage us to explore the past century through documentary and street photography, modernist experimentation, and political imagery and commentary. They also reflect the vitality of the Museum’s collection of works on paper.