By People Staff
August 27, 1979 12:00 PM

Of the 100,000 or so prints available in LIFE’S picture files from the magazine’s birth in 1936, 200 were picked for this touring exhibit. (Selection was made by the Time Inc. director of vintage prints, Doris O’Neil, and New York University’s Grey Art Gallery.) It is an engrossing collection. The decade, with its war, pathos and heroism, could almost have been made for LIFE, and the world’s great photographers found a special inspiration in the essentially new medium of the weekly picture magazine. That productive confluence is reflected here in an enticing cross section of styles. The portraits—such as Picasso by Robert Capa, Einstein by Goesta P.G. Ljungdahl, Bogart by Philippe Halsman—are still vivid. The combat photography—by W. Eugene Smith, Capa and Walter Strock, among others—still reflects the horror of World War II. Margaret Bourke-White’s photograph of a truckload of human bodies at Buchenwald in 1945 and George Rodger’s shot of a little boy walking blithely past piled corpses at Belsen are almost too painful to look at. There is poignancy in Horace Bristol’s 1938 picture of a migrant worker in California (taken during a tour with John Steinbeck that led to The Grapes of Wrath), or Herbert Gehr’s evocation of a would-be congressman campaigning forlornly in a small Massachusetts town in 1942, or a young Missourian facing his draft board in 1942, shot by Alfred Eisenstaedt, now 80, whose work adorns the new monthly LIFE (as well as PEOPLE). The only criticism most viewers are likely to have is that there should be more photographs. The exhibit opens September 2 at the Lufkin Art Center in Lufkin, Texas, moves to the Delaware Art Museum in Wilmington in October and later travels to Valparaiso, Ind. and Exeter, N.H.

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