Peter Sekaer’s “Signs of Life” at the High Museum of Art, Opens Saturday

This Saturday, the High Museum of Art opens "Signs of Life", photographs by Peter Sekaer, the "first major exhibition dedicated to the work of the Danish-born American photographer". A friend, printer, and colleague of Walker Evans, Sekaer's little-known work spans 1935-1945, and documents American life during the Depression.

Julian Cox introducing Peter Sekaer's "Signs of Life" Peter Sekaer at the High Museum of Art Comprised of 75 vintage gelatin silver prints, 55 of which have been aquired for the High's permanent collection, the photographs were created while Sekaer worked for the Rural Electrification Administration, the United States Housing Authority, and the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

Often traveling across the rural South with Walker Evans, Sekaer's style is more intimate, spontaneous and less removed than Evans', especially when considering a location like "Negro Barber Shop Interior, Atlanta, 1936".


© Walker Evans

Here's Sekaer's take, published in the exhibition's catalogue, printed by Gerhard Steidl. (Apologies for the cell-phone snap.) photo

While Evans focuses on the stuff of the shop, and implied stories of the shop's barbers and patrons (in their absence), Sekaer captures the spirit and liveliness of the place, infused with a human moment. Same place, two very different photographs.

Apparently, Sekaer's early passing contributed to his relative hiddenness. While his contemporaries were able to get their work out into the world, especially when photography arrived in museums in the 70s, Sekaer's archives stayed more-or-less unseen, with his family.

All that's about to change with Saturday's debut of "Signs of Life", which will be making its way to the International Center of Photography in New York after Atlanta.
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2 Responses to “Peter Sekaer’s “Signs of Life” at the High Museum of Art, Opens Saturday”

  1. Susan Hanson Says:

    I am thrilled to view some of Sekaer’s work.

  2. Constantine Gavrilidis Says:

    This is an excellent exhibition of the work of a unique photographer and chronologist of an American era. Congatulations and thanks to the High Museum of Art.

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