TABLE OF CONTENTS

PRINT March 1974

books

Documentary Expression and Thirties America

William Stott, Documentary Expression and Thirties America (New York: Oxford University Press, 1973), 361 pages, 64 black-and-white illustrations.

William Stott’s new study is a strong and welcome antidote to the partial oblivion that still besets our consciousness of the thirties. Although not primarily concerned with the visual arts as such, the author’s analysis of the documentary mentality that affected a host of activities during the period—sociological studies of class and caste, radio news, “on the road”-style fiction or autobiography—will provide art historians with a “feel” of the times which should stimulate a wider range of questions to be asked of the visual arts “as such.”

A “document,” in the Depression era, was not a “dry” statistic or compilation of statistics, but a “human” fact or story that would “convey a living experience you won’t forget” (as Edward Steichen said about

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