CARL MYDANS

2023-02-10 - 2022-04-17

Born in 1907, Mydans’ keen sensitivity and honesty compelled him toward a lifetime of social and historical documentary photography. After working for the Boston Globe and the Boston Herald, he joined the staff of the Farm Security Administration along with several other photographers who were later to become legendary, such as Walker Evans, Dorothea Lange, and Arthur Rothstein, to document the conditions of people and their surroundings most affected by the Depression. Mydans joined LIFE magazine as a staff photographer in 1936, working in Britain, Sweden, Finland, Italy, France, China, Malaya, and the Philippines, where he was captured by the Japanese and held prisoner of war for two years.

Mydans was sent back into war in 1944, eventually covering the stoic figure of General MacArthur landing at Luzon. This famous image eloquently captures the pride and determination of the great commander and stands in dramatic contrast to the sense of shame and resignation expressed in the photographs of the Japanese surrender aboard the U.S.S. Missouri from the same year.

Not all of Mydans’ most memorable photographs are from the field of battle. Equally a master of portraiture and landscape photography, Mydans’ compelling photographs provide a picture odyssey of all kinds of events from around the world.

Unanimously hailed as one of the most significant photographers of our time and a legend of photojournalism, Carl Mydans died in August, 2004, at age 97.

"All of us live in history, whether we are aware of it or not, and die in drama. The sense of history and of drama comes to a man not because of who he is or what he does, but flickeringly, as he is caught up in events, as his personality reacts, as he sees for a moment his place in the great flowing river of time and humanity. I cannot tell you where our history is leading us, or through what suffering, or into what era of war or peace. But wherever it is, I know men of good heart will be passing there." -- Carl Mydans