Meeting the Family of Man in Clervaux

The small town of Clervaux, Luxembourg is known as the site for the devastating and significant Battle of the Bulge in 1944. It was in the steep hillsides and throughout the centuries old town that American soldiers fought in World War II, eventually taking refuge in the town’s central, fortified structure—Clervaux Castle.

Rachel Sailor

Unexpectedly, the castle is also the site of another bit of fascinating history. Specifically, The Family of Man exhibition is permanently installed there. In 1955 the Luxembourg born, American immigrant, and photographer extraordinaire Edward Steichen mounted what would become one of photography’s most important exhibitions. The Family of Man included the work of 273 photographers and one an early “blockbuster” for the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Its ostensible purpose was to demonstrate a global, shared humanity in the post-WWII years, but The Family of Man continues to fascinate audiences and have significant ramifications for the history of art, photography and museum exhibitions.

The Family of Man has been permanently installed in the castle since 1994 and offers a chance for continued contemplation of this most historic and contemplative body of images.

Dr. Rachel Sailor is a 2017 Terra Foundation Fellow. An associate professor of Art History at the University of Wyoming, Dr. Sailor received a Fulbright Award in the History of American Art in China & Europe from the Terra Foundation and spent the 2017-2018 academic year at the University of Luxembourg. Articles are written by Fulbright grantees and do not reflect the opinions of the Fulbright Commission, the grantees’ host institutions, or the U.S. Department of State.