The Walker’s new photography show, From Here to There: Alec Soth’s America, got me consulting the archives for other exhibitions devoted to prominent photographers. Witness to our Time: The Photographs of Alfred Eisenstaedt is one example with some relevance. A key figure in developing the profession of photojournalism, Eisenstaedt (1898-1995) worked from the 1930s up until the early ’90s — right about the time Soth was turning from sculpture to photography. With his wanderings through the U.S. and beyond, Soth, who works both as an artist and a photojournalist, could be considered a witness to the 1990s and 2000s. However, the similarities between the two may well end there, if the contrast between Eisenstaedt’s sartorial elegance (check out the perfection of his pocket square, below) and Soth’s preference for beards, plaid shirts and trucker caps is any indication.
When the Photographs of Alfred Eisenstaedt opened in February 1967, people lined up outside the Walker’s old building on Hennepin Avenue, braving the cold to see it. The Walker’s staff photographer at that time, Eric Sutherland, captured the spirit of Eisenstaedt’s work as he shot the opening day of the show.
Here, Sutherland photographed the mesmerized crowd looking at Eisenstaedt’s arresting work (click on any image to enlarge):
He also captured a visitor wielding her own camera:
and this amazing shot of Eisenstaedt himself, wielding his:
If you’re curious about the seldom-seen Eric Sutherland, here he is caught in his own photograph the previous year, standing between Walker’s then-director, Martin Friedman and Minnesota Senator Hubert Humphrey (not on the left):
Legendary Walker board member Philip Von Blon stands just behind Humphrey’s shoulder, amid the children and Secret Service men milling about. The whole scene is reflected in the Michelangelo Pistoletto painting Seated Woman, during the 1966 exhibition Michelangelo Pistoletto: A Reflected World.
(All images taken 2/26/1967 by Eric Sutherland for Walker Art Center.)