The Family of Man


The Family of Man was an ambitious photography exhibition curated by Edward Steichen, the director of the New York City Museum of Modern Art’s (MoMA) Department of Photography. According to Steichen, the exhibition represented the “culmination of his career.” The title was taken from a line in a Carl Sandburg poem.

The Family of Man was first shown in 1955 from January 24 to May 8 at the New York MoMA, then toured the world for eight years to record-breaking audience numbers. Commenting on its appeal, Steichen said the people “looked at the pictures, and the people in the pictures looked back at them. They recognized each other.”

“I believe the Family of Man exhibition, produced and shown first at the Museum of Modern Art, New York and now being circulated throughout the world, is the most ambition and challenging project photography has ever attempted.

The exhibition now permanently presented on the pages of this book, demonstrates that the art of photography is a dynamic process of giving from to ideas and of explaining man to man. It was conceived as a mirror of the universal elements and emotions in the everydayness of life – as a mirror of the essential oneness of mankind throughout the world. The Family of Man has been created in a passionate spirit of devoted love and faith in man.”
— Edward Steichen, from The Introduction, The Family of Man

“A camera testament, a drama of the Grand Canyon of humanity, an epic woven of fun, mystery and holiness – here is the Family of Man!”
— Carl Sandburg, from The Prologue, The Family of Man

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