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Street Scene

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James H. Black, American, b. 1930
Piccadilly Bobby, 1955-1956
Gelatin silver print on paper
10 in. x 8 in. (25.4 cm x 20.32 cm)


Object Type: Photography
Technique: Photography
Credit Line: Scripps College. Purchase made possible by the Jean and Arthur Ames Fund
Accession Number: 2010.5.6


Commentary
"This image of Piccadilly Circus at night captures a lone bobby directing traffic while the magnitude of its timeless popularity showcases huge lite billboard advertisements such as Bovril, Schweppes Tonic Water, Wrigley's Chewing Gum, and Votrix. The movie feature at the London Pavilion to the left of the Statue of Eros is film-noir classic 'Black Tuesday' starring Edward G. Robinson released May 6th, 1955. This image is one of six in a series."
(Sean Black, son of James Black)

[Wall text from Art Pix #1: Streetview: A Spectrum in Black and White]
"This dynamic photograph depicts a constable, or “bobby,” amid the bright billboards of London’s Piccadilly Circus. Immediately striking is the way that the artist contrasts Piccadilly’s starry billboards against a pitch black night sky. Equally significant, however, is the way that the image’s empty foreground manipulates the viewer’s sense of scale, turning a crosswalk into a wide vista. Though the image emphasizes London’s grandeur, the constable’s centrality nonetheless forces the viewer to remember humanity’s place in the urban environment. The constable actually invites the viewer to seek out other figures in the image, and to think of the city not as a lifeless landscape of neon and pavement, but as a home to millions. Indeed, the photograph’s brilliance lies in its ability to showcase London’s magnificence while reminding the viewer of its human scale." (Tara Contractor SC '13, Academic Year Wilson Intern, 2010-2011)

Medium
Gelatin silver print, hand-printed from medium format negatives on photographic paper, selenium toned.

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