“It is human instinct to seek order and to find ways of making sense of the chaos that surrounds us. The Picture Collection reveals this ongoing impulse to categorize and set up ways of indexing, controlling, and understanding information which preceded the possibilities that technology allows. "
The Picture Collection comprises forty-nine works created from the New York Public Library’s picture archive, one of the august institution’s lesser-known troves. The archive contains 1.29 million prints, postcards, posters, and images carefully clipped from books and magazines. Organized by a complex cataloguing system of over 12,000 subject headings, it is the largest circulating picture library in the world.
Since its inception in 1915, the Picture Collection has been an important resource for writers, historians, artists, filmmakers, designers, and advertising agencies. Diego Rivera, who made use of it for his Rockefeller Center mural, Man at the Crossroads (1934), noted that the scope of this image archive…