Wednesday, March 18, 2009

The Women of the Photo League

Rae Russel... Three bridges from the city service building (1948, vintage gelatin silver print, signed in pencil on verso). From the exhibition The Women of the Photo League at Higher Pictures. "...The show includes work by 26 photographers, from the well known Berenice Abbott, Ruth Orkin, and Helen Levitt, to the infamous Angela Calomiris, and many whose work has rarely been seen in fifty years.
From 1936 through 1951, the Photo League offered classes, exhibitions, lectures, and
friendship to New Yorkers united by an interest in photography and, as Erika Stone recalled, an idealistic desire to “make the world a better place.” Teachers such as Paul Strand, Aaron Siskind and Sid Grossman insisted that strong documents also had to be excellent pictures, a philosophy nurtured by lecturers Beaumont Newhall, Ansel Adams, and W. Eugene Smith. At the Photo League, professionals and amateurs alike joined to use the darkroom and enjoyed lively discussions at every gathering. Their monthly journal, Photo Notes, was filled with gossip and jokes along with serious criticism and reviews. The League sponsored exhibitions when no museum (including MoMA) had galleries devoted to photography.


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