Il volto umano del big business: fotografia documentaria americana a Matera (1948-1954)
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Between 1948 and 1954, scores of international photographers ventured to the southern Italian town of Matera. Among them were three American photographers – Marjory Collins, Esther Bubley, and Dan Weiner – who documented signs of what Weiner later referred to as Matera’s “primitive existence,” in particular its ancient cave dwellings known as the “Sassi.” However, their reportages also recounted the town’s modernization. Their pictures highlight the cultural and economic ties that bound Italy and the United States during the postwar period. They reveal, too, the mechanisms American photographers used to distribute their work to Italian and American publications. Above all, their photographs of Matera remind us of a mainstay of American documentary photography that, while fundamental to the history of the medium, is seldom exhibited or discussed: its collaboration with the world of big business.