LINCOLN, MA.- DeCordova Sculpture Park and Museum
announce the first major museum showing of Lucien Aigners photography since the 1980s. Born in Hungary, Lucien Aigner was a pioneering photojournalist in Europe in the 1920s and 1930s who immigrated to New York City in 1939 and later settled in Great Barrington, MA. Aigner worked as both a reporter and a photojournalista rarity at the timefor more than 60 years and amassed a collection of approximately 100,000 negatives, thousands of vintage and modern prints, hundreds of articles and unpublished writings, and photographic equipment, which now constitute the Lucien Aigner Estate. Culled from this Boston-area archive, the 74 prints in this exhibition represent the first curatorial examination of this massive collection with a concentration on Aigners photo stories made in Europe, and include many vintage prints which have never been seen before. By exhibiting Aigners photographs alongside his written commentary, this show demonstrates the significance of Aigners work in the context of art and photojournalism history and present much of it as he originally intended, with both text and image. Photo/Story reaffirms deCordovas commitment to photography and to the art and artists of New England.
Lucien Aigner documented public figures, major political events, and everyday work and leisure in Europe and the United States during the first half of the 20th century. This exhibition focuses on photo stories made in the 1930s on assignment and on speculation, and includes reports on French foreign diplomacy, Parisian life in the years leading up to World War II, and the newly constructed Rikers Island prison, among others. Also on view are some of Aigners most compelling singular images, portraits of historical and cultural figures such as Fiorello LaGuardia, Benito Mussolini, and Marlene Dietrich. Aigner was able to capture striking candid pictures of people and situations by using the pocket-sized 35mm Leica camera that revolutionized journalistic photography. He was one of the first to use it, when most news photographers at the time used slow, cumbersome glass plate-film cameras. Because of the Leicas portability, fast lenses, and roll film format, Aigner was able to record successive exposures of fleeting activity and unobtrusively take photographs by smuggling his camera into places that prohibited journalists or had less than ideal lighting for photography.
Because of the groundbreaking photographs made by him and his European contemporaries, such as Erich Salomon, Alfred Eisenstaedt, Henri Cartier-Bresson, and Robert Capa, in the 1920s and 1930s, these kinds of images are the norm in photojournalism today. Yet, Aigners deserved place in the history of photography remains to be widely recognized