August 02, 1996 at 04:00 AM EDT

Pictures of the Times: A Century of Photography From the New York Times

Current Status
In Season
Peter Galassi, Susan Kismaric
Coffee Table, Pop Culture
We gave it a B

Far more engaging than the lengthy, self-congratulatory articles now running in The New York Times to celebrate its centennial is this pictorial chronology marshaled by the Museum of Modern Art. The curators have abandoned strict historical rigidity for ”the photographs that spoke most clearly and forcefully in their own terms.” On the one hand, this results in a certain endearing randomness (a Dodger at odds with a Yankee, a Miss Teenage America runner-up’s face crumpling). Then again, it invites confusion about what exactly is being commemorated here: Is it the 20th century, the ”paper of record,” or its photographers (many of whom worked for other papers and news services)? Alas, Pictures of the Time: A Century of Photography from ”The New York Times” doesn’t seem really sure. B

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