The Decisive Vernacular Photograph / Hyperallergic

Anonymous, “Man and Horse” (date unknown) from the collection of Marc Boone Fitzerman. (all images courtesy Marc Boone Fitzerman)

Anonymous, “Man and Horse” (date unknown) from the collection of Marc Boone Fitzerman. (all images courtesy Marc Boone Fitzerman)

TULSA, Oklahoma — In the exhibition Unexpected at the Philbrook Museum Downtown, we see a series of 40 anonymous vernacular photographs from the collection of writer and photography collector Marc Boone Fitzerman, curated by the museum’s director Rand Suffolk, that offer slices of America from the 1930s through the 1960s. But unlike a typical photography exhibition, in which the name of the photographer, the year the photo was shot, what type of camera it was shot on, and who the image belongs to are all known, inUnexpected we are given few clues — and that’s what makes this show snap like the shutter of a Kodak Brownie camera, which was probably used to take a number of these pictures.

“Is there one good image in all of us? One good drawing?” asks Suffolk. “They were amateur photographers [shooting these images]; they were not setting out to make something fantastic. Some of these might just be happy accidents.” Fitzerman, the collector of these vernacular photographs, began his collection after discovering a beautiful image at a roadside antique mall in Atoka, Oklahoma, while en route to Dallas. He had just decided to stop for a snack, and a quick spin through the antique mall when he came across this photograph of a young man, who he describes as a sort of Renaissance prince. Besides that, Fitzerman’s father happened to be a dedicated amateur photographer, and it was one of his dad’s photographs of his brother and uncle that he remembers seeing and feeling that it, truly, expressed something deeper that would not otherwise be seen. “I was enchanted with the idea that a normal human being could create an object of some beauty and persuasiveness, and that I could do it with simple technology available to almost anyone,” says Fitzerman.

Read the full story on Hyperallergic: http://hyperallergic.com/126554/the-decisive-vernacular-photograph/