UPPER EAST SIDE — Back in the day, photographers who challenged "cookie-cutter" conventions of suburbia and captured day-to-day life turned little boxes of ticky tacky into fine art.
Now, some 40 works showcasing their chronicles from the 1960s and onward are on display at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Because these snapshots were caught with low tech cameras — and portrayed routine subjects such as frozen dinners or toilets — they are a sort of ideological predecessor to social media-based photography, said Met Curator Doug Eklund of the exhibition "Everyday Epiphanies."
Eklund added that these photographs received much of the same criticism of social media-centric photography — that the subjects are too crude and boring, that the aesthetics are too primitive and simple.
"You didn't show toilets," Eklund said as an example. "It was improper. It was vulgar. This is kind of like the pre-Instagram."
One highlight from the show includes a 1973 series by David Salle. In this four-part work, Salle shows four women in bathrooms standing in front of the windows of their respective kitchens, cup of coffee in hand.
Affixed to the bottom of each tableau is a sticker from their favorite brand of coffee, with the "arbitrarily differentiated brands signifying an insufficient substitute for true freedom in the postwar era," Museum officials said.
Another top shot includes Nan Goldin's "Heart-Shaped Bruise." This picture challenges society's reverence of romantic love by juxtaposing an intimate photo with the pain of domestic violence.
Further flouting ideas about women's roles and all-American values, Goldin would show such pictures in a slideshow format — akin to families sharing slideshows from their Disney vacations.
"People are taking pictures of their whole life," Elkun said. "The subjects were not 'art.'"
"Everyday Epiphanies" is on view at the Met until Jan. 26 2014.