Maren Stange on Social-Documentary Photography, Back in Context

December 21, 2011

Cooper Union Stock Photo

Creased prints, poorly reproduced images, frayed publicity materials—not what one expects when one enters a fine-art gallery. “It is not a documentary image, but the documentary mode that we see here on journal pages and exhibition walls,” Maren Stange writes in her introduction to the catalogue for “Social Forces Visualized,” on view at the Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Art Gallery at Columbia University.


Columbia Event Website

  • Founded by inventor, industrialist and philanthropist Peter Cooper in 1859, The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art offers education in art, architecture and engineering, as well as courses in the humanities and social sciences.

  • “My feelings, my desires, my hopes, embrace humanity throughout the world,” Peter Cooper proclaimed in a speech in 1853. He looked forward to a time when, “knowledge shall cover the earth as waters cover the great deep.”

  • From its beginnings, Cooper Union was a unique institution, dedicated to founder Peter Cooper's proposition that education is the key not only to personal prosperity but to civic virtue and harmony.

  • Peter Cooper wanted his graduates to acquire the technical mastery and entrepreneurial skills, enrich their intellects and spark their creativity, and develop a sense of social justice that would translate into action.