The Family of Man
From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
According to Steichen, the exhibition represented the 'culmination of his career'. The 503 photos by 273 photographers in 68 countries were selected from almost 2 million pictures submitted by famous and unknown photographers. These photos offer a striking snapshot of the human experience which lingers on birth, love, and joy, but also touches war, privation, illness and death. His intention was to prove visually the universality of human experience and photography's role in its documentation.
The exhibit was turned into a book of the same name, containing an introduction by Carl Sandburg who was Steichen's brother-in-law. The book was reproduced in a variety of formats (most popularly a pocket-sized volume) in the 1950s, and reprinted in large format for its 40th anniversary. It has sold more than 4 million copies.
The exhibition later travelled in several versions to 38 countries. More than 9 million people viewed the exhibit. The only surviving edition was presented to Luxembourg, the country of Steichen's birth, and is on permanent display in Clervaux. In 2003 the Family of Man photographic collection was added to UNESCO’s Memory of the World Register in recognition of its historical value.