Consuelo Kanaga

Drew Sawyer, Shalon Parker, Ellen Macfarlane, Shana Lopes

A substantial new appraisal of Consuelo Kanaga, one of the pioneers of modern American photography.

Consuelo Kanaga (1894–1978) was one of the pioneers of modern American photography. Beginning her career in 1915 as a photojournalist for the San Francisco Chronicle, Kanaga quickly became a highly skilled darkroom technician, developing a distinctly artistic aesthetic style inspired by the photography of Alfred Stieglitz. Over the next six decades, she produced beautifully composed images over a wide range of subjects, characterized by an abiding interest in the social conflicts of her time, including urban poverty, workers' rights, racial segregation, and prevailing inequality. She became especially known for her emotional and introspective portraits of African Americans, which combined modernist formal technique and radical documentary commentary.

Featuring two hundred photographs from the collection of the Brooklyn Museum, this substantial new appraisal of Consuelo Kanaga's work establishes her place as one of America’s most vital twentieth-century photographers.

Published to accompany a major touring exhibition from 2024–2026 at Fundación MAPFRE, Barcelona; Fundación MAPFRE, Madrid; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; and Brooklyn Museum, New York.

Contributors

Drew Sawyer

Author

Drew Sawyer is an art historian and curator and currently the Sondra Gilman Curator of Photography at the Whitney Museum of American Art.

Shalon Parker

Author

Shalon Parker is professor of art at Gonzaga University, Washington.

Ellen Macfarlane

Author

Ellen Macfarlane assistant professor of American art history in the School of Art and Art History at the University of Denver.

Shana Lopes

Author

Shana Lopes is assistant curator of photography at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.