Jacob Riis (1849–1914) was a Danish-born newspaper reporter who, through his writing and photographs, publicized the crisis in housing, education, crime, and poverty at the height of late-nineteenth-century European immigration to New York City. By using photographs to reveal the inhumane conditions of the poor, Riis initiated the tradition of social documentary photography. Riis’s images are being shown in multiple formats—negatives, lantern slides, and wood engravings or halftones in books—to show how they were seen by his public.
This exhibition is also on view at the Library of Congress, Washington, DC (April 14–September 5, 2016); the Museum of the City of New York (October 14, 2015–March 20, 2016); and the Kunstforeningen Gammelstrand in Copenhagen, Denmark (October 1, 2016–January 8, 2017).
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