Asia Then: Photographs by Alfred Palmer

May 4 - June 23, 2013 / Curated by Julia Palmer Gennert & Elia Haworth


 Coolies on Docks-Tires, Kowloon, China 1937Alfred Palmer (American,1906-1993) was just 19 years old in 1925 when he shipped out on his first of twenty-three voyages around the world. What he saw and photographed in each exotic port started him on a fifty-year career as a photographer and documentary filmmaker.

He is best known for his images of the shared deter-mination of Americans on the home front during World War II and for his national maritime photographic archives. During the war era he helped emphasize the capability of women and people of color, people who were usually marginalized. Late in life Palmer said it was his voyages during his youth that instilled in him a life-long respect for all people and a commitment to promote human understanding. His work is now in museums, national collections, the Library of Congress and the National Archives.


 This exhibition of vintage prints features images of China and Japan between 1925 and 1947. Both China and Japan are great cultures with ancient and often inter-twined histories. Each emerged from devastation in the mid-twentieth century to become world economic and technological powers in the early 21st Century, with tremendous impact on our American economy and way of life. Through Palmer’s artistic eye we glimpse both the old way of life and hints of the coming modernization.


Image: Coolies on Docks-Tires, Kowloon, China 1937

Photographs in this exhibition are courtesy of Julia Palmer Gennert