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November 9, 2011

18 Amazing Color Photographs That Document American Life in the 1940s

Jack Delano immigrated to the United States with his family from Ukraine in 1923 and attended the Settlement Music School in Philadelphia as a scholarship student from 1925 to 1933. After graduating from high school in 1932, he took classes at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, until 1937; he became interested in photography while traveling in Europe.

He worked for the photography projects of the Works Progress Administration, the United Fund, and the Farm Security Administration, and inspired by his experiences with the FSA in Puerto Rico, he settled there in 1946 and was the official photographer for the government of Puerto Rico. Delano has been there ever since, holding positions in the Puerto Rican media, and remaining active as a book illustrator, graphics consultant, music teacher, and animator. Delano has received a National Endowment for the Arts and a Guggenheim Fellowship, among other honors.

Delano's photographs elevate the ordinary individual to heroic status. In the 1940s he often played with scale to underline the strength of character in his subjects, and he enlarged some of his prints beyond the usual proportions to dramatize the subjects' presence. Delano documents a region through not only its people and landscape, but also its cultural and social patterns; this attitude differentiated his work from that of most other FSA photographers. His early exploration of color photography in the 1940s produced unconventional, but beautiful, photographs demonstrating his mastery.


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