Ford Motor Company Report 1959


As a group photograph I think that Cornell Capa’s Ford photograph rivals the famous Coney Island beach spectacular photograph by Weegee the famous (July 1940).  In Capa’s Ford image we see rows and rows of (mainly white) men in crisp white shirts, all smartly sporting neck ties and all proudly arranged behind the great symbol of the Ford motor car. This is Fordist logic and the paternalistic corporate model visualized.


This image was taken at a time when the American Dream seemed like it might actually be real and obtainable to most (middle class) folks. This was an image taken in an age when Detroit was one of the richest cities in America, the car industry was booming and nothing was more American than the motor car and the road trip.


These images were taken by Cornell Capa for the Ford Motor Company Annual Report in 1959. As well as being a Concerned Photographer Cornell like many photographers was a working photographer and earned money working for Magnum Photo Agency on various assignments all over the world. The brochure he helped to create for the Ford Motor Company is a very beautiful and well designed document. The report imagery is perfectly balanced with both colour and black and white images. The photographs in the report are as clean and crisp as the white shirts worn by the Ford Company men.

The brochure was produced at a time when everything was seemingly in the right place and the only choices that needed to be made were simple ones of vehicular choice: Should your vehicle be designed for the country, the suburbs or the city? Should you go for the Tractor or the pick-up truck or will you need both? Will it be the station wagon or sports car for you? Gasoline or diesel? Are you looking at American models for the American market or is it European models for Europe?


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