General Public The Bitter Years Historic collection by Edward Steichen

The Bitter Years - Edward Steichen

1935 -1941 USA. Rural America as seen by the Photographers of the Farm Security Administration 

The Bitter Years is the last exhibition famous photographer Edward Steichen curated as the Director of the Photography Department of the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York.

Designed in 1962, it is a testimony to documentary photography, featuring over 200 images from one of the largest collective projects in the history of photography: the documentation of rural America during the Great Depression by the Farm Security Administration (FSA) between 1935 and 1944. The historical collection brings together masterpieces by world-famous photographers such as Walker Evans, Dorothea Lange, Arthur Rothstein and Jack Delano. For The Bitter Years, Edward Steichen selects some of the most iconic but also the most desperate images from the FSA file, corresponding to the initial goal of the mission: to document and illustrate poverty in order to trigger compassion for the represented subjects, the future beneficiaries of the government programs established by Franklin Roosevelt. At the same time, Steichen depicts courageous, even heroic people through a dramatic scenography.

In 1967 the collection is bequeathed by MoMA  to the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg following the wish of Edward Steichen. 

For futher information, check out our historical summary for the collection or the documentation on our site dedicated to the Edward Steichen collections held by the CNA: 




New Horizons Ahead

The  collection by Edward Steichen leaves the exceptional site of the water tower!

The original prints from the exhibition present a similar materiality to those of The Family of Man: black & white prints glued onto wooden panels of various sizes. With the integration of the collection into the CNA-archive, all the prints have been meticulously restored by the experts Silvia Berselli, then Sandra Petrillo.  

For conservation reasons, we have taken the decision to remove the historical photographic documents from our site 'Waassertuerm + Pomhouse'  in January 2021 to bring them back to the archives. Here, the prints will be stored in archive boxes, kept in ideal conditions in the photographic cold rooms of the CNA, and they will be appraised by Francesca Vantellini in preparation of future adventures ...



Last update