Throughout the 19th and early 20th century, photography had long been used to represent people of color as “the other”, as objects of study. The visual record of African Americans was largely composed of ethnographic images and bleak depictions of racial stereotypes. But with the Harlem Renaissance in the 1920s came a fresh bloom of photographers using the medium to show community, humanity, and joy in Black American life—a trend that carried on into the 1930s and even today. Shot in the late 1930s, Harlem Tenement in Summer challenges the negative representations that often saturated the socio-political climate of the time with a typical day in the neighborhood punctuated by a smile from the window, schoolchildren chatting, and an infectious laugh you can almost hear. While the photographer is unknown, they captured a pivotal shift in perspective that influenced the medium for decades to come.
"Harlem in the early part of the 20th century is most closely identified with its Renaissance, when Black creative, intellectual, and political life took root in the community, but Harlem Tenement in Summer captures an everyday moment that has its own historical significance. Photographed sometime between 1935 and 1939, Harlem Tenement in Summer does not define Harlem by its legends. Instead, the unknown photographer has chosen to immortalize a quotidian stoop scene. Imagine stepping into this print, and that you, like the building’s residents, have escaped the stifling and stagnant summer heat in your apartment to sit outside in anticipation of a cool breeze. While the youngest Harlemites are at play on the sidewalk or clustered together on the stoop, the adults are mid-conversation, some leaning confidently out of wide open windows above to share a word. Nearby a woman’s laughter is so hearty you can nearly feel it in your own chest. This image boasts an openness and camaraderie that implores viewers to linger on every face, challenging us to try to connect the dots between the scene’s many characters ..." Read more from Morgan Fletcher on the blog!
+ Limited-edition, exclusive to 20x200
+ Museum quality: archival inks, 100% cotton rag paper unless noted
+ Certificate of authenticity signed and numbered by our head curator is included
+ Handcrafted custom-framing is available
Our quoted dimensions are for the size of paper containing the images, not the printed image itself. We do not alter the aspect ratio, nor do we crop or resize the artists’ originals. All of our prints have a minimum border of .5 inches to allow for framing.
Innova Fibaprint Warm Cotton Gloss
8"x10" | edition of 20
11"x14" | edition of 200
16"x20" | edition of 50
20"x24" | edition of 10