Avery Library Acquires Arthur Rothstein Photographic Collection

Rothstein Dust Storm
Credit: Arthur Rothstein. Farmer and sons walking in the face of a dust storm. Cimarron County, Oklahoma (1936). Arthur Rothstein Photograph Collection, Drawings & Archives, Avery Architectural & Fine Arts Library.

Columbia University Libraries/Information Services’ Avery Architectural and Fine Arts Library is pleased to announce the acquisition of the Arthur Rothstein Photograph Collection, 1848-2000, a collection of photographic prints and negatives, personal and professional papers, printed material, videos and ephemera, donated to the library by his wife, Grace Rothstein.

Arthur Rothstein (1915-1985), one of the most prolific and influential photographers of the 20th century, produced a broad scope of work that captured American life from the Great Depression through the Reagan years, as well as international events from post-War famine in China to May Day in Moscow’s Red Square at the height of the Cold War. From Welsh coal miners to the Reichstag in ruins, to the unique documentation of the Jewish refugee population in Shanghai after World War II, it was said of Arthur Rothstein that he went everywhere, saw everything and brought his camera.

“Because powerful images are fixed in the mind more readily than words, the photographer needs no interpreter. A photograph means the same thing all over the world and no translator is required. Photography is truly a universal language, transcending all boundaries of race, politics and nationality.” — Arthur Rothstein

The collection includes materials spanning Rothstein’s entire career as a photographer for the Farm Security Administration, Look magazine, the United States Army Signal Corps and Office of War Information, the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration, Parade magazine, and the Utah Oral History Institute. The majority of photographic material consists of black and white silver gelatin prints, and some color negatives and prints. Among the works in the collection are Rothstein’s iconic Dust Storm Cimarron County and Gee’s Bend – both of which are widely recognized defining images of the American landscape and experience.

October 28, 6:30-8:00 pm
Celebrating the Arthur Rothstein Photograph Collection at Avery
Speaker: Noam Elcott, Columbia University
Exhibition & Lecture with reception following
Avery Library Miriam & Ira D. Wallach Center for the Study of Art and Architecture
Sponsored by Avery Architectural & Fine Arts Library and Avery Friends

Columbia University Libraries press release
Life reviewRothstein Collection finding aid



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