Visit Louis Stettner’s retrospective at SFMOMA and enjoy how he managed to make us feel the roughness of American streets while enlightening them with a touch of humanity specific to the French photographers of the time.
Brooklyn-born, Louis Stettner began photography as a teenager. Stettner began working in the 1930s, becoming a member of the Photo League in New-York and befriending Lisette Model, Paul Strand, and Weegee. Enrolled as a combat photographer for the US Army during the Second World War, he then worked for Life, Time, Paris Match… Less known to the general public than some of his French friends (i.e, Brassai whose SFMOMA exhibition has just ended), he shared his time between New-York and Paris for many years before settling in the Paris suburbs in the 1990s. He died in France after a retrospective at the Center Pompidou in 2016.

But there is an element to be appreciated in his work that is probably equally important than his love for France; Louis Stettner had a twin… Pay atttention and you will find the evocation of twins through the projected shadows of his subjects, or for instance with subjects and objects often going by pair, even with street furniture splitting a photo in two. Many shots implie the presence of a second half…


In the “Circadian transit” room, you will look at two series, taken about 10 years apart, featuring commuters on public transportation.

The first serie made in 1946 present fairly objective, frontal captures of workers in the New-York subway; the second serie made in 1958 (12 years later) observes the passengers in a much more filtered way, either through a windows or with an intentional blur of the image. It is quite fascinating to see the evolution of the artist on the same subject, as if we were witnessing him taking a step back. This second serie joins the “oblique gaze” mentioned in the previous room; by not treating the most realistic subjects in a frontal way but by offsetting them or by adding an other element that forces us to look at the subjects from an other angle.

Enjoy this very interesting exhibition where you will circulate through rooms easily differentiated by blue, white and red!
A wink of the curator or a simple coincidence?
You can book
 your tickets here.

SFMOMA – 151 3rd St, San Francisco, CA 94103
Hours – Friday to Tuesday 10 am – 5 pm, Thursday from 10 am – 9 pm – Closed on Wednesday.

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