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Carmel Vitullo was born in Providence, Rhode Island on July 16, 1925 into the small Italian community of Federal Hill.
After high school she enrolled in a major in painting at the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD), but abandoned it for the medium of photography about which she was more passionate. In further study at the New York Institute of Photography she discovered the work of Henri Cartier Bresson and she continued to be an exponent and practitioner of street photography. A majority of her photographs depict the neighbourhood of Rhode Island in the 1950s and the first Newport Jazz Festival.
Edward Steichen selected her photograph of displaced refugees at Grand Central Terminal en route to a relocation centre, for the Museum of Modern Art world-touring exhibition The Family of Man, which was seen by 9 million visitors. Her print was exhibited in the section ‘Rebels’ at the end of a row of six, hard against the adjoining wall, in sympathy with the entrapment of the subjects who are seated, frieze-like, along a bench parallel to the picture plane. In front of them are their suitcases stacked on a cart labeled NCWC (National Catholic Welfare Conference) stickers, the social Catholic organization helping immigrants relocate to the United States and confirming their identity as immigrants. Disquieting, confusing spots of light from the skylight fall across the scene and add to the pervasive anxiety evident in the expressions of the men, women, and children. The inclusion in The Family of Man and its accompanying catalogue (which has never been out of print) came as a breakthrough for Vitullo.
Vitullo's photographs from the first Newport Jazz Festival remain in the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art and were shown there in Photographs from the Museum Collection, November 26, 1958 – January 18, 1959. Her work has also been represented in the Rhode Island School of Design Museum, the Bert Gallery, the Newport Art Museum, and the Block Island Historical Society, among other institutions.
- NYIP Famous Alumni
- Hurm, Gerd, 1958-, (editor.); Reitz, Anke, (editor.); Zamir, Shamoon, (editor.) (2018), The family of man revisited : photography in a global age, London I.B.Tauris, ISBN 978-1-78672-297-3, 133-156
- Madeline Ferretti-Theilig/ Jochen Krautz, 'Speaking Images of Humanity. »The Family of Man« Exhibition as an Exemplary Model of Relational Aesthetic and Pictorial Practice' in IMAGE, Ausgabe 26, 07/2017,p.20
- Petit, Jeanne: Our Immigrants Coreligionist. The National Catholic Welfare Conference as an Advocate for Immigrants in the 1920s. In: Buff, Rachel Ida (ed.): Immigrant Rights in the Shadows of Citizenship. New York [NYU P] 2008, cited in Madeline Ferretti-Theilig/ Jochen Krautz, 'Speaking Images of Humanity. »The Family of Man« Exhibition as an Exemplary Model of Relational Aesthetic and Pictorial Practice' in IMAGE, Ausgabe 26, 07/2017
- Steichen, Edward; Steichen, Edward, 1879-1973, (organizer.); Sandburg, Carl, 1878-1967, (writer of foreword.); Norman, Dorothy, 1905-1997, (writer of added text.); Lionni, Leo, 1910-1999, (book designer.); Mason, Jerry, (editor.); Stoller, Ezra, (photographer.); Museum of Modern Art (New York, N.Y.) (1955). The family of man : the photographic exhibition. Published for the Museum of Modern Art by Simon and Schuster in collaboration with the Maco Magazine Corporation.CS1 maint: Multiple names: authors list (link) CS1 maint: Extra text: authors list (link)
- Museum of Modern Art artists
- RISD Museum of Art exhibition “Urban America, 1930–1970,” Friday, December 1, to February 25, 2007 
- Bert Gallery exhibition Carmel Vitullo: Rhode Island 1950 - 1960, July 14th - August 28th, 2009