Laborer (Stevedore Longshoreman, Norfolk, Virginia), from the project The Negro in Virginia

Media - 1993.72.10 - SAAM-1993.72.10_1 - 70704
Copied Robert McNeill, Laborer (Stevedore Longshoreman, Norfolk, Virginia), from the project The Negro in Virginia, 1938, gelatin silver print, sheet: 108 18 in. (25.420.6 cm.), Smithsonian American Art Museum, Museum purchase, 1993.72.10, © 1938, Robert McNeill

Artwork Details

Title
Laborer (Stevedore Longshoreman, Norfolk, Virginia), from the project The Negro in Virginia
Date
1938
Location
Not on view
Dimensions
sheet: 108 18 in. (25.420.6 cm.)
Copyright
© 1938, Robert McNeill
Credit Line
Museum purchase
Mediums Description
gelatin silver print
Classifications
Keywords
  • Figure male — elderly
  • African American
  • Occupation — industry — shipping
  • Landscape — Virginia — Norfolk
Object Number
1993.72.10

Artwork Description

Cropped to focus on a single dockworker, Laborer (Stevedore Longshoreman, Norfolk, Virginia) shows not the labor but the waiting, which sometimes lasted for days because the men were not permitted on the pier until called to work. It is an image of both dignity and resignation. “The look says, ‘what the hell are you doing photographing me,’” remarked McNeill, “and I think it says a lot more.”


African American Art: Harlem Renaissance, Civil Rights Era, and Beyond, 2012