Pyramid Club, Philadelphia

Date
1940s
Medium
Photography
Credit Line
John W. Mosley Photograph Collection, Charles L. Blockson Afro-American Collection, Temple University Libraries, Philadelphia, PA

Membership in the Pyramid Club was officially open only to men. However, there was a Ladies’ Auxiliary—a social club in which women could participate—a Pyramid Wives Club, and a Women’s Coordinating Committee, which managed the receptions at the annual art exhibitions. Women were also permitted on the club’s exhibition committee, which helped organize, install, and select exhibitions.

Like many social clubs of the time, the activities at the club were usually divided by gender. As these photographs indicate, luncheons and cooking demonstrations were attended by women, while men exclusively frequented the members-only Crystal Bar. Members and their wives could attend lectures and guest speakers.

Mosley experimented with the language of modernist photography to make his pictures interesting. He shoots the audience of a lecture from behind, capturing the fantastical patterns of hats. He crops and blurs a man’s head in the extreme foreground of another photograph, creating a spontaneous, dynamic sense of the smoke-filled atmosphere. Photographing the Crystal Bar, his curving composition makes apparent the different domains of the well-dressed club members and the young men who work behind the bar.

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