From 1950 to 1990, a series of massive backlit transparencies in Grand Central Terminal evoked a dreamy American lifestyle of pretty nuclear families and fabulous getaways. The Kodak Colorama series of photographs, 18 feet high and 60 feet wide, were displayed in the station's Grand Concourse, in the space now occupied by the Apple Store. Now, in a partnership with the New York Transit Museum, they have resurfaced in the illustrious station, albeit in a "more manageable size," until November 1st.
Each photograph will be accompanied by video footage of the photographer explaining how they made everything look so, well, perfect. Names associated with the series included photographer Ansel Adams, artist Norman Rockwell, photographer Elliot Porter, and TV’s Ozzie and Harriett, who appeared in several images. One of the narrations involves the first photograph in the series to feature a black model, which appeared in 1968. “To Kodak’s surprise, the image generated nasty letters,” says Alison Nordström, curator of photographs at Eastman House.
“These illuminated images reflected and reinforced American values and aspirations while encouraging picture-taking as an essential aspect of leisure, travel, and family,” said Nordström. “The Coloramas taught us not only what to photograph, but also how to see the world as though it were a photograph. They served to manifest and visualize values that even then were seen as nostalgic and in jeopardy, salvageable only through the time-defying alchemy of Kodak cameras and film."
The photographs currently are on view at the New York Transit Museum Gallery Annex, located just off the Main Concourse in the Shuttle Passage next to the Station Master's office.