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Sid Grossman
Sid Grossman

Sid Grossman

Country: United States
Birth: 1913 | Death: 1955

Sid Grossman was an American photographer, teacher, and social activist. He was the younger son of Morris and Ethel Grossman. Grossman attended the City College of New York and worked on a WPA street crew. In 1934, he started what would become the Photo League with co-founder Sol Libsohn. Grossman played numerous roles throughout the Photo League's existence (1936–1951) including educator, administrator, reviewer, editor of Photo Notes and founder of Chelsea Document (1938-1940), an indictment of obsolete buildings and substandard living conditions in a New York neighborhood. He enlisted on March 6, 1943 and served in the Sixth Army in Panama during World War II. Grossman's 1940 photographs of labor union activity led to FBI investigations and the blacklisting of the Photo League as a communist front in 1947. In 1949, he opened a photography school in Provincetown, Massachusetts, although he continued to live and teach in NYC part of every year. Grossman was married twice: to Marion Hille and then to Miriam Grossman.

Grossman conducted workshops at the Photo League, the Henry St. Settlement, the Harlem Art Center, and privately in NYC and Provincetown, for almost twenty years. The photographers he taught were many – including Lou Bernstein, Lisette Model, Walter Rosenblum, Louis Stettner, Helen Gee, Arthur Leipzig (who is on record as calling Grossman “probably the most fantastic teacher I ever knew”) and Leon Levinstein. Yet Grossman himself said, “I am not an instructor in any classical sense.” He insisted that his students take on the responsibility for making something of themselves. According to Jewish Museum curator Mason Klein, “Grossman increasingly insisted on the idea of being in the world in a particular manner, engaging with a certain consciousness as a photographer, and connecting to the camera in ways that made photographers question who they were.” One had to “live for photography,” in effect transforming and liberating oneself – in order to become a good photographer.

One description of Grossman's “impassioned, often aggressive workshop critiques” has been provided by one of his students, N. Jay Jaffee, who studied with him in 1948. On the one hand, “He was almost contemptuous; each of us got a taste of his anger and hostility during the course.” Yet, “His genius was in expounding a philosophy of photography that was unique. I had never heard anyone speak on a subject with such depth and enthusiasm. I still recall a phrase he repeated several times: 'The world is a picture.' This simple statement was a profound insight into the method and meaning of photography.” “To Sid, photography was serious, not sacred.” Grossman's first wife, Marion Hille, remarked that he “encouraged his students 'to enjoy themselves right away, to get a feel of taking pictures without technique getting in the way.'”

Jaffee reflected that, “Perhaps, if Sid had lived long enough, he would have also mellowed. Hopefully, he would have received the honor and respect for his brilliance and his work that he so justly deserves.” Today, almost all of the important photographers and educators he influenced and who continued his legacy are also deceased. All that is left are the photographs he and they made – a considerable contribution.

Source: Wikipedia


An influential teacher and activist, Grossman was a founding member of the Photo League, a group of socially-minded photographers that used documentary photography to call attention to poverty and injustice in New York. Showing three ragtag kids, two of whom present their modest toys to the photographer, this image exemplifies Grossman’s humanistic artistic vision, which often testified to the endurance and survival of his subjects. Due to his participation in the Communist Party, the U.S. Government blacklisted Grossman and monitored his activities for several years.

Source: The Met

 

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William Eugene Smith
United States
1918 | † 1978
William Eugene Smith was an American photojournalist known for his refusal to compromise professional standards and his brutally vivid World War II photographs. Smith graduated from Wichita North High School in 1936. He began his career by taking pictures for two local newspapers, The Wichita Eagle (morning circulation) and the Beacon (evening circulation). He moved to New York City and began work for Newsweek and became known for his incessant perfectionism and thorny personality. Smith was fired from Newsweek for refusing to use medium format cameras and joined Life Magazine in 1939 using a 35mm camera. In 1945 he was wounded while photographing battle conditions in the Pacific theater of World War II. As a correspondent for Ziff-Davis Publishing and then Life again, W. Eugene Smith entered World War II on the front lines of the island-hopping American offensive against Japan, photographing U.S. Marines and Japanese prisoners of war at Saipan, Guam, Iwo Jima, and Okinawa. On Okinawa, Smith was hit by mortar fire. After recovering, he continued at Life and perfected the photo essay from 1947 to 1954. In 1950, he was sent to the United Kingdom to cover the General Election, in which the Labour Party, under Clement Attlee, was narrowly victorious. Life had taken an editorial stance against the Labour government. In the end, a limited number of Smith's photographs of working-class Britain were published, including three shots of the South Wales valleys. In a documentary made by BBC Wales, Professor Dai Smith traced a miner who described how he and two colleagues had met Smith on their way home from work at the pit and had been instructed on how to pose for one of the photos published in Life. Smith severed his ties with Life over the way in which the magazine used his photographs of Albert Schweitzer. Upon leaving Life, Smith joined the Magnum Photos agency in 1955. There he started his project to document Pittsburgh. This project was supposed to take him three weeks, but spanned three years and tens of thousands of negatives. It was too large ever to be shown, although a series of book-length photo essays were eventually produced. From 1957 to 1965 he took photographs and made recordings of jazz musicians at a Manhattan loft shared by David X. Young, Dick Cary and Hall Overton. In January 1972, William Eugene Smith was attacked by Chisso employees near Tokyo, in an attempt to stop him from further publicizing the Minamata disease to the world. Although Smith survived the attack, his sight in one eye deteriorated. Smith and his Japanese wife lived in the city of Minamata from 1971 to 1973 and took many photos as part of a photo essay detailing the effects of Minamata disease, which was caused by a Chisso factory discharging heavy metals into water sources around Minamata. One of his most famous works, Tomoko Uemura in Her Bath, taken in December 1971 and published a few months after the 1972 attack, drew worldwide attention to the effects of Minamata disease. Complications from his long-term consumption of drugs, notably amphetamines (taken to enable his workaholic tendencies), and alcohol led to a massive stroke, from which Eugene Smith died in 1978. He is buried in Crum Elbow Cemetery, Pleasant Valley, New York. Smith was perhaps the originator and arguably the master of the photo-essay. In addition to Pittsburgh, these works include Nurse Midwife, Minamata, Country Doctor, and Albert Schweitzer - A Man of Mercy. Today, Smith's legacy lives on through the W. Eugene Smith Memorial Fund to promote "humanistic photography." Since 1980, the fund has awarded photographers for exceptional accomplishments in the field.Source: Wikipedia Born and reared in Wichita, Kansas, W. Eugene Smith became interested in photography at the age of fourteen, and three years later had begun to photograph for local newspapers. He received a photography scholarship to the University of Notre Dame, but he left after a year for New York, where he joined the staff of Newsweek and freelanced for LIFE, Collier's, Harper's Bazaar, The New York Times, and other publications. Beginning in 1939, Smith began working sporadically as a staff photographer for LIFE, with which he had a tempestuous relationship throughout the rest of his career. During World War II he was a war correspondent in the Pacific theater for the Ziff-Davis publishing company and LIFE, for whom he was working when he was severely wounded in Okinawa in 1945. After a two-year recuperation, he returned to the magazine and produced many of his best photo essays, including Country Doctor, Spanish Village, and A Man of Mercy. In 1955, he joined Magnum, the international cooperative photography agency founded by Henri Cartier-Bresson, Robert Capa, George Rodger and Chim (David Seymour), and began work on a large photographic study of Pittsburgh, for which he received Guggenheim Fellowships in 1956 and 1957. Smith continued to freelance for LIFE, Pageant, and Sports Illustrated, among other periodicals, for the rest of his career. From 1959 to 1977, he worked for Hitachi in Japan and taught at the New School for Social Research and the School of Visual Arts in New York and the University of Arizona in Tucson. His last photo essay, Minamata, completed in the 1970s, depicted victims of mercury poisoning in a Japanese fishing village. Smith is credited with developing the photo essay to its ultimate form. He was an exacting printer, and the combination of innovation, integrity and technical mastery in his photography made his work the standard by which photojournalism was measured for many years. 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Ruth Orkin
United States
1921 | † 1985
Ruth Orkin was an American photographer, photojournalist, and filmmaker, with ties to New York City and Hollywood. Best known for her photograph An American Girl in Italy (1951), she photographed many celebrities and personalities including Lauren Bacall, Doris Day, Ava Gardner, Tennessee Williams, Marlon Brando, and Alfred Hitchcock. Ruth Orkin was born on September 3, 1921 in Boston, Massachusetts to Mary Ruby and Samuel Orkin. Ruth grew up in Hollywood, due to her mother's career as a silent film actress. In 1931, she received her first camera, a 39-cent Univex, and soon began experimenting by taking photographs of her friends and teachers at school. At the age of 17, she decided to bike across America, beginning in Los Angeles, and ending in New York City for the 1939 World's Fair. She completed the trip in three weeks' time, taking photographs along the way. 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After the success of the two films, Orkin returned to photography, taking color shots of Central Park as seen through her apartment window. Ruth photographed marathons, parades, concerts, demonstrations, and the beauty of the changing seasons. These photographs were the subject of two widely acclaimed books, A World Through My Window (1978) and More Pictures from My Window (1983). Orkin taught photography at the School of Visual Arts in the late 1970s, and at the International Center of Photography in 1980. After a long struggle with cancer, Orkin passed away in her apartment, surrounded by her wonderful legacy of photographs with the view of Central Park outside her window, on January 16, 1985.Source: Wikipedia Ruth Orkin was an award-winning photojournalist and filmmaker. Orkin was the only child of Mary Ruby, a silent-film actress, and Samuel Orkin, a manufacturer of toy boats called Orkin Craft. She grew up in Hollywood in the heyday of the 1920s and 1930s. At the age of 10, she received her first camera, a 39 cent Univex. She began by photographing her friends and teachers at school. At 17 years old she took a monumental bicycle trip across the United States from Los Angeles to New York City to see the 1939 World’s Fair, and she photographed along the way. Orkin moved to New York in 1943, where she worked as a nightclub photographer and shot baby pictures by day to buy her first professional camera. She worked for all the major magazines in 1940s, and also went to Tanglewood during the summers to shoot rehearsals. She ended up with many of the worlds’ greatest musicians of the time including Leonard Bernstein, Isaac Stern, Aaron Copland, Jascha Heifitz, Serge Koussevitzky and many others. In 1951, LIFE magazine sent her to Israel with the Israeli Philharmonic. Orkin then went to Italy, and it was in Florence where she met Nina Lee Craig, an art student and fellow American, who became the subject of American Girl in Italy. 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Like a film director, Orkin created images that appear to be private moments, and lends a Hollywood-style personality to her subjects and landscapes.Source: International Center of Photography
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Hungary
1990
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Anna Hayat and Slava Pirsky
We are Anna Hayat (born 1974) and Slava Pirsky (born 1965), originally from the Soviet Union. Each of us decided to start a new life in Israel in the early 90s, in search of new horizons. Fate brought us to Jerusalem through different paths, where we lived for over 20 years and now find joy in a small town nearby. We met in 1999 and instantly felt a special connection, as if our shared passion for photography brought us closer. In 2000, we became proud parents of an exquisite daughter whom we started photographing from her very birth. Since then, we have become an inseparable team and partners in the world of photography and art. For over 20 years, we have actively collaborated on joint photography projects. Our creative process revolves around analog photography, primarily using old Polaroid large-format black and white negative plates. Despite the discontinuation of production of these films in 2008, we use expired films to create unique and emotive works of art. We capture images using both a large studio camera and small field Polaroid cameras. The slow shooting process is of utmost importance to us, as it imparts a special depth to our works. In a way, the negative itself becomes another partner in our process. We appreciate the unpredictability of old negatives, which gives our photographs a distinct character, a touch of poetry, and a timeless feeling that is crucial to our work. Our latest project reflects our emotions and pain caused by Russia's treacherous aggression. For this series, we ventured into a mixed technique for the first time, tearing and cutting our works, stitching them anew, adding patches and seams. The project was showcased at the Ramlah Museum and immediately after at the KyotoGraphie International Photography Festival in Japan.
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