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TIME STANDS STILL: THE PHOTOGRAPHS OF ROY DeCARAVA

WHATEVER ELSE IT GAINED in the years following World War II, by the ’50s New York had lost some of its vitality and innocence. In the photographic record, the physical look of the city changed little, but its mood was much altered. Though the city’s retail buzz and signage were jazzier, its spirit was sadder. There remained little trace of the excited leveling and strut that had galvanized the city in the ’40s. Looking back at vintage shots of wartime New York, one got the impression that everyone then, of whatever origin, was engaged in a huge enterprise that united them in expansive defense of their common values. Consider the photos of typical ’40s subjects, working-class people in the plazas and at Coney Island, open spaces where the crowded, multiethnic public was appreciated for its diversity. The almost partylike throngs captured in Lou Stoumen’s Times Square photographs display a

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