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The Social Documentary Photography of Milton Rogovin

edited by Christopher Fulton with contributions by Elizabeth E. Reilly, Cynthia Negrey, Catherine Fosl, Peter S. Fosl, John T. Cumbler, Karen Christopher, Joy Gleason Carew, Thomas B. Byers, and Tracy E. K'Meyer foreword by Michael Frisch

Availablepaperback$40.00s 978-0-8131-7748-9
200 pages  Pubdate: 07/09/2019  6 x 9  83 b/w photographs

Milton Rogovin (1909–2011) dedicated his photographic career to capturing the humanity of working-class people around the world—coal miners, factory workers, the urban poor, the residents of Appalachia, and other marginalized groups. He worked to equalize the relationship between photographer and subject in the making of pictures and encouraged his subjects’ agency by photographing them on their own terms. Rogovin’s powerful insight and immense sympathy for his subjects distinguish him as one of the most original and important documentary photographers in American history.

Edited by Christopher Fulton, The Social Documentary Photography of Milton Rogovin is a multi-disciplinary study of the photographer’s historical achievement and continuing relevance. Inspired by a recent donation of his work to the University of Louisville, this compilation of essays examines Rogovin’s work through multiple lenses. Contributors analyze his photographic career and political motivations, as well as his relationship to economic history and current academic interests. Most closely investigated are the Lower West Side series—a photographic portrait of a particular neighborhood of Buffalo—the Working People series—documenting blue-collar workers and their families over a span of years—and the Family of Miners series—a survey of mining communities in the United States and eight foreign countries.

A collaborative effort by prominent scholars, The Social Documentary Photography of Milton Rogovin combines historical and biographical research with cultural and artistic criticism, offering a unique perspective on Rogovin’s work in Appalachia and beyond.

Christopher Fulton is professor of fine arts at the University of Louisville and the author of An Earthly Paradise: The Medici, Their Collection, and the Foundations of Modern Art. Before joining the Louisville faculty, he worked as a researcher at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the National Gallery of Art.

I found The Social Documentary Photography by Milton Rogovin a thought-provoking and analytically rigorous study. The piece introduced me to the work of this important photographer, and it offered important context for understanding his corpus. I finished reading with a sense of the milieu in which Rogovin developed, how he hoped to train our sights on ordinary people, the rather breathtaking geographical scope of his work, the ideologies that informed it, the techniques he used, and what he contributed. I was moved to reflect anew about a variety of familiar themes:  the importance of ‘seeing’ in understanding the many ways we can be human, the problems inherent in that seeing, and the complicated nature of social change. -- Carolyn Dupont, author of Mississippi Praying: Southern White Evangelicals and the Civil Rights Movement, 1945-1975