Skip to Content ☰ Open Filter >>

Demolishing New York City Row House, 10th Avenue

Showing 1 of 1

Consuelo Kanaga, American, (1894–1978)
Demolishing New York City Row House, 10th Avenue, 1936
Photographic materials on paper
7 1/2 in. x 9 1/2 in. (19.05 cm x 24.13 cm)

Object Type: Photography
Technique: Gelatin silver Process
Credit Line: Gift of Sharon Walther Blasgen '64 and Michael Blasgen
Accession Number: 2005.11.13

“She was a person way ahead of her time, Consuelo […] Generally if you use the word unconventional you mean someone who breaks the rules—she had no rules,” said the photographer Dorothea Lange (1895–1965) about her friend and colleague, Consuelo Kanaga. At the age of 21, she worked as a reporter, feature writer, and later, photographer at the San Francisco Chronicle, a rare feat for a woman at the time. In 1922, Kanaga moved to New York with the intention of becoming a professional photographer, and joined the New York Photo League, an organization known for its encouragement of social activism. During the 1930s, Kanaga was associated with the f/64 group, a group of San Francisco photographers famous for precise images of natural forms, whose members included Ansel Adams (1902–1984). Kanaga was also known for her sympathetic and powerful portraits of African Americans struggling with urban poverty. Later in her life, she championed civil rights.

Demolishing New York City Row House, 10th Avenue is representative of Kanaga’s early architectural photographs. The jumble of geometric forms, the contrast between the elegant traditional building in the upper right corner and the decay of the row house, and the presence of the faceless workers emphasize the impersonal process of urban modernization. Demolishing New York City Row House, 10th Avenue speaks to Kanaga’s compositional skill and to her interest in the bleak socio-economic conditions of the modern metropolis.

Jennie Waldow ’12
Wilson Intern 2011

1Dorothea Lange as quoted in Millstein, Barbara Head, Consuelo Kanaga: An American Photographer (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1992) 21.

The young Consuelo Kanaga’s prodigious talent earned her many mentors. She first took up photography after finding an issue of Camera Work, Alfred Stieglitz’s photographic journal, and embraced a career in photography after Dorothea Lange discovered her and introduced her to Edward Weston. With both Lange and Stieglitz as her mentor—two opposing forces in the debate over what photography should be—Kanaga developed a middle-ground style. This photograph depicts a city, not unlike Stieglitz’s "The City of Ambition". But, rather than transmuting the city into a pure image of ambition, she shows it turning to rubble. The cloud of dust rising above the rubble shows the active process required to change a city, clarifying an unnoticed process of urban life clear.

David Kuhio Ahia, PO ’18
Getty Multicultural Undergraduate Intern

Federal Art Project stamp with photo credit on verso.

Vintage silver gelatin print.

Keywords Click a term to view the records with the same keyword
This object has the following keywords:

Portfolio List Click a portfolio name to view all the objects in that portfolio
This object is a member of the following portfolios:

Your current search criteria is: Objects is "Demolishing New York City Row House, 10th Avenue".