The present essay will discuss and redefine the complex contexts and relationships which connect the issues of human rights, women’s rights, and civil rights with the open, modernist aesthetics of The Family of Man. Undoubtedly, a historically differentiated view of the installation’s innovative foregrounding of intercultural communication, emancipation, and pacifism is as vital today as it was when it was presented in the aftermath of McCarthyist hysteria and in the midst of the threat of nuclear annihilation during the Cold War. It is also pertinent since the former traveling installation can now be viewed again in its original design. Since 1994, it has been permanently displayed in the Museum Castle Clervaux in Steichen’s native Luxembourg. Ultimately, an examination of the complex connotations evoked by the women’s rights title phrase is overdue given Steichen’s specific reception aesthetics which stressed the substantial impact of verbal and visual contexts in viewing pictures.
Zuerst erschienen in: The State of Human Rights: Historical Genealogies, Political Controversies, and Cultural Imaginaries. Ed. Kerstin Schmidt. Heidelberg: Universitätsverlag Winter, 2020. 209-234