Skip Navigation

Background InformationShare

Untitled (Tenements, New York)

Consuelo Kanaga (American, 1894-1978)

Untitled (Tenements, New York), c. 1937

  • Gelatin silver print
  • 7 11/16 x 6 1/16 in. (19.5 x 15.4 cm)
  • The Jewish Museum, New York
  • Purchase: The Paul Strand Trust for the benefit of Virginia Stevens Gift, 2008-69
  • Digital image © 2008 The Jewish Museum, New York Photo by Ardon Bar Hama

Not on view

largeImage

close

Untitled (Tenements, New York)

close

Untitled (Tenements, New York)

Photo Leaguer Consuelo Kanaga’s principal subject is working-class people, most often African Americans. In this image from around 1937, Kanaga turns her lens on tenement life in New York. The dreadful housing conditions and overcrowding are only hinted at in this almost abstract composition, a forest of vertical poles and crisscrossing wires and clotheslines punctuated by patterns of white laundry.

Kanaga is known for her astute compositions and her commitment to revealing the conditions of the city’s poor, particularly decaying tenements.

In addition to her successful career as a photojournalist, Kanaga also taught workshops at the Photo League. Many women were actively engaged in the world of photography at that time, which was remarkable since women were so scarce in other professions, artistic or otherwise.

Women seemed to have great empathy for marginal and minority groups, and scholars have posited that perhaps this was a result of their being a minority themselves.