20 Iconic Photographs Of The 20th Century

One of the greatest contributions of photographers is the art of capturing history. While we learn about epic moments and facts through books and classes, photos have the power to take us back in time for at least a second. In this list, we’ll go over 20 of the most iconic pictures of the 20th century, and they all represent important historical events. If you’re into music, cinema, sports, and transcendental love stories, then this is the list for you!

#20. 99 Cents Photographed By Andreas Gursky

There is no denying that the United States is one of the most capitalist countries in the world. Artists like Andy Warhol drew inspiration from mass consumerism and transformed it into iconic works of art. And clearly, tons of artists have followed Warhol’s path.

Photo: Courtesy of Directexpose

The image was taken by Andreas Gursky, and he was trying to depict Americans’ consumerism. The amount of goods produced and sold in supermarkets is mindblowing. Without knowing it, the artist created a work of genius. It was sold for $2.3 million!

#19. Surfing Hippos

Surfers aren’t the only ones who can ride waves in style. Michael Nichols captured two hippos catching some waves in the Atlantic Ocean. However, this is no ordinary picture. In fact, this photograph made quite the impact.

Photo: Courtesy of Directexpose

Can you guess why? Mainly, hippos are swampy and river creatures. What are they doing out on the ocean? The message conveyed in this photo is that natural habitats and ecosystems are suffering at the hands of human intervention and contamination.

#18. Surfing Becomes Popular

Today, surfing is a big part of many cultures. Some destinations have even become incredibly popular because they have the perfect conditions to practice the sport. One of these is California, where surfing arrived in 1931. And since then, it’s been unstoppable!

Photo: Courtesy of Directexpose

Tom Blake is the man who made surfboards and surfing available to de masses. He spread the knowledge and allowed more people to access the sport that was only practiced by the elites at the time. The picture above was taken in the 30s and it represents surfing’s first steps, just when it was starting to become popular.

#17. Eddie Murphy Look-Alike

We sometimes cross paths with people who resemble in more or less degree someone we know. Well, this photo reminds everyone who sets eyes upon it, of Eddie Murphy. The resemblance between both is pretty uncanny.

Photo: Courtesy of Directexpose

The man in the photograph is certainly not the famous actor… unless he can transport back in time to the 1800s. This image makes me think about all the possible old photographs that might resemble me, or even you!

#16. Kitten Saved By Soldier

While we don’t normally think of soldiers as delicate and absolute cat lovers, this soldier proves us all wrong. This photo was taken during the Korean War, and the man in the photo is a Combat Correspondent named Frank Praytor.

Photo: Courtesy of Directexpose

This image is incredibly powerful. The man in army uniform on the field is nursing a tiny newborn kitten. The contrast between both and the unlikely context made this photo a hit with the American public. It’s impossible not to feel touched, look how tiny the kitten is!

#15. Martin Luther King Delivers Iconic Speech

Martin Luther King is an emblematic figure of the Civil Rights Movement, which reached a peak in the ’50s and ’60s. His message on non-violence and against racism made an echo and appealed to many Americans.

Photo: Courtesy of Directexpose

This photograph was captured in 1963 in the March in Washington. There, Martin Luther King delivered the legendary words “I have a dream”. The recurrent use of this phrase wasn’t actually planned but it stuck with thousands of people.

#14. Steve Jobs Introduces A Revolutionary Phone

Most of the people you know today have a smartphone. Steve Jobs, who used to be the CEO of Apple, was the creator and genius behind the first iPhone. And the photo below shows the day in which Jobs introduced this new invention to the world. This technology revolutionized the market and the way we relate to our phones.

Photo: Courtesy of Directexpose

We use our cellphones to communicate, talk and text with each other. But they’re much more than that. We listen to music, podcasts, we take selfies, we write down important things to remember. Our phones are our ultimate agendas and diaries!

#13. Shia Labeouf Controversial Appearance

Shia Labeouf is an actor that knows how to get people talking about him. He has starred in different movies and TV series, becoming one of America’s favorites. From Nymphomaniac to Transformers, this actor can surely adapt to any role. One of his most controversial appearances, however, took place off-screen.

Photo: Courtesy of Directexpose

In 2014, the actor placed a paper bag over his head that read “I am not famous anymore“. This got people talking, especially considering the fact that a few days before he had confirmed he would be taking some time off.

#12. Elizabeth Taylor Hiding Something In Her Pocket

Elizabeth Taylor has made her mark in cinema history. Many of her movies have become classics since the moment they reached the big screen. She won many awards and was recognized by the American Film Institute for her talent.

Photo: Courtesy of Directexpose

In the photo, Elizabeth stands in a classic dress from the ’50s. The actress loved to play around and she was obsessed with cats. Who isn’t, right? So she went ahead and during a photo shoot, she put a kitten in her pocket.

#11. Musical Power Couple With Their Daughter

Love, passion, drugs and musical genius describe the relationship between these two. In case you don’t recognize them, the loving couple in the photo is Kurt Cobain and Courtney Love. Both of them became icons during the 90s.

Photo: Courtesy of Directexpose

While the couple might resemble any ordinary parents holding their daughter, these two were everything but that. In fact, their relationship had more ups and downs than a rollercoaster and their talent is still appreciated everywhere. Which is your favorite Nirvana song?

#10. Bob Marley And Jimi Hendrix Play Football

These could be any two friends playing around, passing a ball, having a good time. What stands out about this game is the aftermath. After hitting it off (literally), Bob Marley and Jimi Hendrix had an incredible musical session together.

Photo: Courtesy of Directexpose

They smoked, sang and composed together. Can you believe Marley was only 23 years old at the time? He certainly was talented, and incredibly lucky to meet Hendrix. The two stars have numerous hits that can be still heard in movies and even on the radio.

#9. A Portrait Of Salvador Dali

How can one capture the eccentric, the creative, and the crazy of Salvador Dali in a photograph? Well, it is certainly a challenge but Philippe Halsman exceeded expectations. The photographer was actually a close collaborator of the world-wide famous artist.

Photo: Courtesy of Directexpose

In a stroke of genius, Philippe reached out to get some help. His wife and his daughter happily contributed to making this portrait incredible. They were in charge of standing behind the scenes and throwing three cats as well as a bucket of water in order to create movement and a dramatic shot.

#8. Marylin Monroe Before Becoming Famous

Did you know, Marylin Monroe’s real name was actually Norma Jean? Before fame and fortune, the actress who had had a difficult childhood worked and had an ordinary life. In fact, she actually married surprisingly young at 16 years old.

Photo: Courtesy of Directexpose

In the photo, she is seen working for a US military factory. She looks quite happy and her working clothes and style resemble nothing of her look after she became famous. Who would have known she was to become an immortal American sex symbol?

#7. The Original Star Wars Cast

Since the movie Star Wars first premiered in 1977, many sequels have followed. A whole culture, vocabulary and even clothing style have emerged surrounding the fantastic world and characters starring in the Space Adventures.

Photo: Courtesy of Directexpose

If you’re a hardcore fan yourself, then you’ll recognize that the original cast – including Han Solo, Luke, and even Leia Organa – have appeared in the more recent films. This loved crew is part of all our childhoods.

#6. Marylin Monroe Meets Royalty

Throughout the years, many iconic movie stars, singers, artists, and politicians have had the honor of paying a visit to Buckingham Palace and meeting the Queen herself. In the photo below, two unlikely figures meet for the first time at a film premiere.

Photo: Courtesy of Directexpose

Marilyn Monroe and Queen Elizabeth, both the same age, meet at Arthur Miller’s movie premiere. The coincidence is amazing, don’t you think? For another famous figure that you’ll probably recognize, check out the next slide.

#5. Young Fans Approach Elvis Presley

Elvis Presley has gone down in history as the King of Rock. This epic title has been won over by Elvis fair and square. His voice seduces like no other, and with every song, he is able to get the party going in a beat. Last but not least, let’s not forget his legendary dance moves!

Photo: Courtesy of Directexpose

Performing and signing autographs was basically part of his job description. In this photo, Elvis is signing some young fans, what here is out of the ordinary? Well, the King of Rock had to improvise a table to write on. That cute little boy deserves a round of applause!

#4. Audrey Hepburn Does Shopping With Her Favourite Pet

Everybody goes grocery shopping, at least every once in a while… yes, even worldwide famous movie stars. In this photo Audrey Hepburn, the beautiful and talented actress that stars in movie classics such as Breakfast at Tiffany’s and My Fair Lady goes shopping with her pet… deer.

Photo: Courtesy of Directexpose

The story behind the photograph is quite amazing. While filming Green Mansion, the director had a novel idea. Audrey should adopt the deer for a few days so that the animal would get used to the actress. Surprising as thing is, by the end of it, they were practically inseparable.

#3. Couple Celebrating The End Of The War

This photo is a classical image. Americans are celebrating the end of the Second World War, and excitement can be felt even through the image. The relief, happiness, and heightened emotions are palpable. It even makes you wanna be there!

Photo: Courtesy of Directexpose

A fully uniformed sailor and nurse are kissing passionately and spontaneously. People celebrated in any way possible; kisses, drinks, dancing, and singing. Just imagine the reactions of the people, hearing the wonderful news.

#2. Legendary Muhammad Ali Win

Muhammad Ali was a fascinating figure at the time. He had a great sense of humor, was a Muslim and always spoke out about injustice and civil rights. Above all, he was the best boxer of his time and won dozens of battles and medals.

Photo: Courtesy of Directexpose

The image captures one of the most popular fights in history, Sonny Liston vs. Muhammad Ali. The photographer was lucky enough to capture the exact moment in which Ali knocks out his opponent and wins the fight. What great timing! Now, are you ready for our #1?

#1. Epic Beatles Pillow Fight

Pillow fights are always entertaining to watch in movies and series, and even being a part of them is extremely fun. And it seems like the Beatles thought quite the same judging by their dramatic stances and the ecstatic faces they’re pulling off in the image.

Photo: Courtesy of Directexpose

Harry Benson is the photographer that captured this lovely moment between the members of the band. Moments before the shot was taken, the Beatles had received the news their song was a top hit in the U.S. That song was I Want To Hold Your Hand.

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