Daily Picture Show

The Big Legacy Of Charles 'Teenie' Harris, Photographer

Charles "Teenie" Harris, holding camera and standing on sidewalk, circa 1938. i i

Charles "Teenie" Harris, holding camera and standing on sidewalk, circa 1938. Photographer unknown/Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh hide caption

itoggle caption Photographer unknown/Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh
Charles "Teenie" Harris, holding camera and standing on sidewalk, circa 1938.

Charles "Teenie" Harris, holding camera and standing on sidewalk, circa 1938.

Photographer unknown/Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh

Charles "Teenie" Harris didn't need to wander far during his life as a photographer. His hometown of Pittsburgh supplied enough images to sustain a career. For more than four decades, Harris was one of the principal photographers for the Pittsburgh Courier, one of the nation's pre-eminent black newspapers.

"[Teenie] has been known and loved in Pittsburgh ever since the 1930s, but his reputation outside the city is just beginning to spread," says Lulu Lippincott, curator of a new exhibition of Teenie Harris' photos at the Carnegie Museum of Art.

  • Two young women eat caramel apples, circa 1940-1945.
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    Two young women eat caramel apples, circa 1940-1945.
    Charles "Teenie" Harris/Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh
  • Duke Ellington at piano, with dancer Honey Coles and Billy Strayhorn looking on, in the Stanley Theatre, circa 1942-1943.
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    Duke Ellington at piano, with dancer Honey Coles and Billy Strayhorn looking on, in the Stanley Theatre, circa 1942-1943.
    Charles "Teenie" Harris/Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh
  • Children visit a printing shop, possibly at the Pittsburgh Courier, circa 1945-1949.
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    Children visit a printing shop, possibly at the Pittsburgh Courier, circa 1945-1949.
    Charles "Teenie" Harris/Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh
  • Two young men and a young woman play horseshoes at Dr. Alma Illery's "Camp Achievemment," Fayette County, Pa., circa 1941.
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    Two young men and a young woman play horseshoes at Dr. Alma Illery's "Camp Achievemment," Fayette County, Pa., circa 1941.
    Charles "Teenie" Harris/Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh
  • Lena Horne is reflected in a mirror in her dressing room at Stanley Theatre, circa 1944.
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    Lena Horne is reflected in a mirror in her dressing room at Stanley Theatre, circa 1944.
    Charles "Teenie" Harris/Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh
  • Men, including T. Hamilton, Len Holland, James Hughes and Thomas Williams, stand behind women seated on swings at Highland Park picnic, August 1952.
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    Men, including T. Hamilton, Len Holland, James Hughes and Thomas Williams, stand behind women seated on swings at Highland Park picnic, August 1952.
    Charles "Teenie" Harris/Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh
  • Four Pittsburgh Crawfords baseball players, Peatross, Johnson, Daniels, and Atkins, stand on field, May 1945.
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    Four Pittsburgh Crawfords baseball players, Peatross, Johnson, Daniels, and Atkins, stand on field, May 1945.
    Charles "Teenie" Harris/Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh
  • Frank Bolden at left and Sarah Vaughan at right, with another woman and man at piano, circa 1950.
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    Frank Bolden at left and Sarah Vaughan at right, with another woman and man at piano, circa 1950.
    Charles "Teenie" Harris/Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh
  • Singer Carol Thompson, poses with newsboys at the edge of Sully Pool in South Park during Pittsburgh Courier newsboys' annual picnic, August 1961.
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    Singer Carol Thompson, poses with newsboys at the edge of Sully Pool in South Park during Pittsburgh Courier newsboys' annual picnic, August 1961.
    Charles "Teenie" Harris/Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh
  • Boxers, possibly Golden Gloves contenders, line up in a boxing ring, circa 1955.
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    Boxers, possibly Golden Gloves contenders, line up in a boxing ring, circa 1955.
    Charles "Teenie" Harris/Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh
  • A woman models a hairstyle in Harris Studio, circa 1938-1945.
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    A woman models a hairstyle in Harris Studio, circa 1938-1945.
    Charles "Teenie" Harris/Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh
  • Boxer Harry Bobo, 1941.
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    Boxer Harry Bobo, 1941.
    Charles "Teenie" Harris/Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh
  • A man and woman hold hands with small child on the sidewalk, circa 1940-1946.
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    A man and woman hold hands with small child on the sidewalk, circa 1940-1946.
    Charles "Teenie" Harris/Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh
  • A woman, possibly Barbara Jones, poses with a car on Mulford Street, Homewood, circa 1937.
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    A woman, possibly Barbara Jones, poses with a car on Mulford Street, Homewood, circa 1937.
    Charles "Teenie" Harris/Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh
  • Two girls with former slave Sabre "Mother" Washington, circa 1950-1955.
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    Two girls with former slave Sabre "Mother" Washington, circa 1950-1955.
    Charles "Teenie" Harris/Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh
  • A woman stands outside Kay's Valet Shoppe, circa 1938-1945.
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    A woman stands outside Kay's Valet Shoppe, circa 1938-1945.
    Charles "Teenie" Harris/Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh
  • A little girl reads a comic book at a newsstand, circa 1940-1945.
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    A little girl reads a comic book at a newsstand, circa 1940-1945.
    Charles "Teenie" Harris/Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh
  • Roland M. Sawyer and Aileen Eckstein Sawyer pose on their wedding day on steps of The Thimble Shop in Highland Park, August 1938.
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    Roland M. Sawyer and Aileen Eckstein Sawyer pose on their wedding day on steps of The Thimble Shop in Highland Park, August 1938.
    Charles "Teenie" Harris/Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh
  • Soldiers from the 372nd Infantry march in a parade down Fifth Avenue, July 1942.
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    Soldiers from the 372nd Infantry march in a parade down Fifth Avenue, July 1942.
    Charles "Teenie" Harris/Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh
  • A woman sits on a car, with a steel mill in the background, circa 1940-1946.
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    A woman sits on a car, with a steel mill in the background, circa 1940-1946.
    Charles "Teenie" Harris/Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh
  • Self-portrait of Charles "Teenie" Harris in Harris Studio, circa 1940.
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    Self-portrait of Charles "Teenie" Harris in Harris Studio, circa 1940.
    Charles "Teenie" Harris/Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh

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Beginning in the 1930s, his work in Pittsburgh's storied Hill District produced a rich portrait of the African-American experience rarely displayed in Harris' contemporary American media. It's a portrait that shows both the joys and struggles of mid-20th-century urban life.

Photos of men drinking in bars and children crowding around a summer swimming pool appear alongside scenes of civil rights protests and union-backed demonstrations.

Boys, possibly from Herron Hill School, playing brass instruments on steps, circa 1938-€“1945. i i

Boys, possibly from Herron Hill School, playing brass instruments on steps, circa 1938-€“1945. Charles "Teenie" Harris/Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh hide caption

itoggle caption Charles "Teenie" Harris/Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh
Boys, possibly from Herron Hill School, playing brass instruments on steps, circa 1938-€“1945.

Boys, possibly from Herron Hill School, playing brass instruments on steps, circa 1938-€“1945.

Charles "Teenie" Harris/Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh

"[Teenie] conveys in a way that I've never experienced before in photographs, the immediate experience of being in a different place, a different time," says Lippincott.

His work may be understood as a celebration of the working class, but Harris didn't shy away from opportunities to show life on the other side of the tracks. His portfolio is dotted with the occasional image of some of the biggest names of the era, including Louis Armstrong, Muhammad Ali and John F. Kennedy.

"He was a studio photographer, photojournalist and advertising photographer who helped preserve African-American culture from family life to social life," Deborah Willis, a photography professor at New York University, writes in the exhibition's companion book.

Little boy boxer, seated in boxing ring, possibly in Kay Boys' Club, circa 1945.

Little boy boxer, seated in boxing ring, possibly in Kay Boys' Club, circa 1945. Charles "Teenie" Harris/Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburg hide caption

itoggle caption Charles "Teenie" Harris/Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburg

One of Harris' best-loved photos shows a young boy, perhaps 7 or 8, slumped in the corner of a boxing ring, his hands weighed down by a pair of oversized gloves. The boy gazes into the camera and appears to smile as a single tear trickles down his cheek. It's a perfect distillation of Harris' catalog, where life's joyful moments are shaded — but never eclipsed — by the shadow of conflict.

The exhibition is scheduled to make stops in Chicago, Atlanta and Birmingham, Ala.

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