Cattle skull, Badlands, South DakotaArtist(s)Arthur RothsteinArtist NationalityAmerican (North American)Object Creation Date1936Medium & Supportgelatin silver print on paperDimensions
14 in x 14 1/4 in (35.56 cm x 36.2 cm)Credit LineGift of Thomas Wilson '79 and Jill Garling '80Subject matter
This photograph represents an overhead view of a steer's skull amid a dry and cracked landscape. During the Great Depression (1929-1941), the United States' Farm Security Administration hired photographers to document the effects of the Dust Bowl, which devastated much of the central Great Plains. This photograph became one of the most iconic images produced by the FSA; however, it raised controversy when it was discovered that Rothstein adjusted the position of the skull and experimented with the lighting. Critics of Roosevelt's administation accused Rothstein of doctoring his images in order to manipulate public opinion in support of the New Deal. Additionally, this image was produced several months before the drought began and in an already arid region of the country. Nevertheless, the photograph became a potent symbol of the Dust Bowl and the destruction that it caused.
A cow skull on parched and cracked ground.Primary Object Classification Photograph Primary Object Typeblack and white printCollection AreaPhotographyRights
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skulls (skeleton components)