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October 22, 2017

24 Stunning Photographs That Capture Street Scenes of Chicago in the 1980s

Jeff Wassmann is an American artist, writer and theorist, currently living in Melbourne, Australia. His first novel, The Buzzard, was released in October 2012. Wassmann's art work incorporates assemblage, photography, web-based new media and aspects of culture jamming.

Several events in 1980 would influence Wassmann's decision to sideline a long-planned career in the diplomatic corps, embarking instead on photojournalism. The most seminal was a visit to the exhibition Henri Cartier-Bresson: Photographer at the Art Institute of Chicago early in the year, a show that would have a profound impact on his vision as a photographer.

Soon after, while still a student at Northwestern, Wassmann answered the phone at the Daily Northwestern, where he was photo editor, to find Ted Kennedy's campaign manager on the line, asking him to join the Senator's presidential campaign in Illinois as official photographer. Kennedy lost, and in November Ronald Reagan won the general election against incumbent Jimmy Carter, discouraging Wassmann further from his State Department aspirations. As the year closed Wassmann was awarded the Grand Prix in Ilford's inaugural International Cibachrome Awards, finalizing his move into photography.

In the closing years of the decade Wassmann dedicated himself to street photography, shooting over 10,000 unpublished Kodachrome slides in a body of work the artist titles Chicago in the Reagan Era. In March 1989, he emigrated to Australia.

North Dearborn Street, Chicago, March 1988

North Michigan and East Pearson, Chicago, February 1989

North Michigan Avenue, Chicago, April 1988

North Michigan Avenue, Chicago, February 1989

North Michigan Avenue, Chicago, November 1985

East Oak Street and North Michigan Avenue, Chicago, June 1988

Milwaukee, North and Damen, February 1989

Milwaukee, North and Damen, May 1988

Streeterville lakefront, Chicago, July 1984

Taylor near Washtenaw, Chicago, June 1987

West Chicago Avenue, Chicago, March 1988

Biograph Theatre, North Lincoln Avenue, Chicago, August 1988

East Ohio Street, Chicago, July 1985

Grand Avenue, River Grove, Illinois, October 1986

Maxwell Street, Chicago, November 1987

North Lincoln Avenue, Chicago, August 1988

North Michigan Avenue, July 1985

North State Street, Chicago, May 1988

North Wells Street, Chicago, May 1985

Oz Park, North Larrabee Street, Chicago, February 1989

Printers Row, Chicago, May 1985

South LaSalle Street, Chicago, March 1988

Standard Oil lobby, Chicago, December 1988

West Wacker Drive, Chicago, March 1988



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