From Vietnam to Abu Ghraib

Photo: Eddie Adams, 1968

"... I called Peter Galassi, the head of the Museum of Modern Art's photography department, to ask him if the Abu Ghraib photographs were in MoMA's photography collection. I asked because MoMA's collection includes many pictures that were not intended as art but that are nationally important, including landmark photographs of the moon, Eddie Adams' 'execution picture' from Vietnam, civil rights-era photos and more. ..."

Thus begins Tyler Green in his outstanding blog on modern and contemporary art, Modern Art Notes.

Photo: Nick Ut, 1972

Green says Abu Ghraib was a particular landmark in the Bush years. They are what the Eddie Adams 'execution' photo was to the Vietnam War: the revelation of a grossly unpleasant truth, pictures that forced Americans to consider the horrors encouraged by their leaders in the name of our country. Recognising the role the Adams photograph plays in American national consciousness and its import to American visual culture, the picture is in the collection of the Museum of Modern Art. "Photographically, in terms of impact on national consciousness and our shared visual culture, the Abu Ghraib pictures - there may be as many as 2,000 of them - stand in for the whole of the torture committed by our government during the Bush years."

Read Tyler Green's post here.

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