Happy Go Lucky

They say a picture speaks a thousand words.

 Biggest Flag Unfurled, Tony Spina 1967
Biggest Flag Unfurled, Tony Spina 1967

This well worn but accurate cliché is perhaps no more true than in the field of photojournalism, as proven in a new show at east London’s Daniel Blau gallery.

 Builders and Crane, John H. White 1988
Builders and Crane, John H. White 1988

The show, entitled Happy Go Lucky, presents an array of 20th century American photojournalism images, offering an insightful glimpse into the history of America throughout the last hundred years.

Firemen, Daily News 1962
Firemen, Daily News 1962

And, as the images show, it was certainly no quiet time for the US. After the Second World War, the country’s success catalyzed a sense of positivism and determination – it was a time for the country to foster the sense that anything was possible.

Honest Joe’s, A Name You Can Trust, Bert Emanuele
Honest Joe’s, A Name You Can Trust, Bert Emanuele

However, the American Dream – instilling in people that they are entitled to ‘Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness’ – was proven easier to postulate on than fulfill.

Maggie Swampwater, Woman Indian Guide, Daily News 1950
Maggie Swampwater, Woman Indian Guide, Daily News 1950

War, economic instability and civil rebellion continued to shatter said dream, as we see in the images depicting crippling social unrest.

Striker Lands a “Roundhouse” on Police Officer’s Jaw, Ed Smith October 2, 1946
Striker Lands a “Roundhouse” on Police Officer’s Jaw, Ed Smith October 2, 1946

We see candid photographs of scenes including inner-city Chicago housing projects, industry in rapid decline and some less uneasy scenes, such as the gorgeous fish-eye view of Manhattan.

Skyline of Manhattan, Wide World Photo 1977
Skyline of Manhattan, Wide World Photo 1977

Many of the images on display bear the hallmarks of a press print  – ink stamps, crop-marks and news clippings are often visible, adding to the sense of history.

Sunset Ballet – Twin Leap, Arthur B. Rickerby 1950
Sunset Ballet – Twin Leap, Arthur B. Rickerby 1950

Happy Go Lucky runs until 13 April at Daniel Blau, 51 Hoxton Square, London N1

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