Report from the Front

Art criticism, sometimes with context, occasional politics. Published in hard copy 5-7 times a year. New shows: "events;" hard-copy rates & how to support the online edition: "works."

The Radical Camera

February 26, 2012

Tags: Rosalie Gwathmey, Weegee, Lisette Modell, Sid Grossman, Jack Manning

Rosalie Gwathmey, Untitled (Sunday Dress), ca. 1945, gelatin silver print. Columbus Museum of Art, Ohio, Photo League Collection, Museum purchase with funds provided by Elizabeth M. Ross, the Derby Fund, John S. and Catherine Chapin Kobacker, and the Friends of the Photo League. (c) Estate of Rosalie Gwathmey/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY.

Yet another entry into the art-as-politics sweepstakes this season is “The Radical Camera: New York’s Photo League, 1936 – 1951.” The Photo League was a group of young, mostly Jewish, mostly leftish, often first-generation American and all indefatigable photographers who chronicled life in New York and on occasion, elsewhere, in the Depression and on through and after World War II, until they were blacklisted by Attorney General Tom Clark in 1947 and ran out of juice, closing their doors forever in 1951. Their lively exhibition of nearly 150 vintage photographs is at the Jewish Museum (through March 25). (more…)