Little Pictures Big Lives: Snapshots from the Archives of American Art


Snapshots—thousands of them—are tucked away among the letters, documents, and diaries of artists in the Archives of American Art. These little pictures give us a view into the intimate lives of “larger than life” people.

Most of these images date from the golden age of snapshot photography—the 1920s through the 1960s—when cameras first became widely owned and used to document all kinds of occasions, both public and private. In today’s digital age of point–and–shoot, instant playback, and Photoshop, snapshots evoke an earlier era of photography, when there was a charm in capturing even the simplest of scenes.

Capturing the authentic and the incidental, snapshots provide an intimate look into artists’ lives—who they knew, who they loved, where they worked, where they went, and, perhaps most importantly, the little moments that made their lives rich and full.

— Merry Foresta, Guest Curator

Become part of the exhibition: explore, comment, & share your own snapshots on Flickr