The Knoxville Museum of Art Presents Streetwise: Masters of 1960s Photography

April 4, 2012

This exhibition highlights the work of a group of eight American photographers who focused their lenses on the rapid social and political changes that transformed the nation during the turbulent 1960s. The featured images present a realistic, sometimes dire, view of America surveying the “outlaw culture” of bikers and chain gangs, Boston’s red light district known as the Combat Zone, Black Panthers, the gritty streets and neighborhoods of New York, the politically charged South, and fringe communities and subcultures around the country.

Streetwise builds on Swiss photographer Robert Frank’s “snapshot aesthetic,” which gained attention following the release of his groundbreaking book The Americans in 1959. Frank’s interest in seemingly random, ordinary subjects presented in cropped, off-center compositions influenced an entire generation of photographers including featured artists Diane Arbus, Ruth-Marion Baruch, Jerry Berndt, Bruce Davidson, Lee Friedlander, Danny Lyon, Garry Winogrand, and Ernest Withers.

Intent on redefining the nation based on what they saw, the photographers showcased in Streetwise were concerned with exposing a more realistic and challenging view of an America undergoing change. The underlying message was clearly that of a nation in flux and a defiant intent to capture the underground side of society. Many of the photographers featured in Streetwise spent time with their subjects and wanted their images to represent the view of a participant rather than an outside observer.

The public is invited to a preview party Thursday, May 3 from 5:30-7:30pm. This event is free and includes a gallery talk and cash bar.

Streetwise: Masters of 60s Photography is organized by The Museum of Photographic Arts, San Diego. Major funding for Streetwise is provided by the National Endowment for the Arts.

The Knoxville showing of Streetwise is sponsored by Texas Instruments. Media sponsors include AT&T Real Yellow Pages, Digital Media Graphix, Kurt Zinser Design, and WBIR.

The Knoxville Museum of Art The Knoxville Museum of Art celebrates the art and artists of East Tennessee, presents new art and new ideas, serves and educates diverse audiences, and enhances Knoxville’s quality of life. The museum is located in downtown Knoxville at 1050 World’s Fair Park and is open to the public Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday 10am–5pm, Friday 10am–8pm, and Sunday 1pm-5pm. Admission and parking are free. For more information, contact Angela Thomas at 865.934.2034 or visit