Charles Brittin
American, 1928-2011
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Collected by a major museum
Museum of Modern Art (MoMA)

Charles Brittin has been called “one of the great civil and political photographers of the age.” Alive during the intersection of some of the most seminal movements in American history—Beat culture, the Civil Rights Movement, the Black Panthers, and protests against the Vietnam war—Brittin documented key people, places, and events with his powerful, compassionate photographs. He was active during the 1950s and 1960s, living in pre-gentrified Venice Beach, L.A., an outpost for outsiders and activists. Brittin’s Untitled (Louisiana State Police) (1965) is an exemplary illustration of his accolade. It shows civil rights protesters holding hands and organized neatly into rows, their open mouths suggestive of singing. Beside them stands a white police officer holding his long, black rifle aloft, visually boxing the protesters into the corner of this moving and unflinching photograph.

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