STREETS OF NEW YORK Until 3 March 2023 David Hill Gallery 345 Ladbroke Grove London W10 6HA
Streets of New York is an exhibition of New York life, as captured by five masters of their craft. Curated by David Hill and Carrie Scott and featuring previously unseen images, the show includes work from the late 1940s through to the early 1970s, the period generally considered the golden age of street photography.
In alphabetical order, the five photographers in Streets of New York are Werner Bischof, the first non-founding member of Magnum Photos; Mario Carnicelli, who this year received the inaugural Prix Viviane Esders in recognition of his career as a photographer; Harold Feinstein, described by the New York Times as ‘one of the most accomplished recorders of the American experience’; Larry Fink, hugely influential, with many exhibitions, photobooks and books on photographic theory to his name; Marc Riboud, Magnum Photos photographer, whose humanist eye recorded some of most iconic images to be represented by the agency.
Swiss born WERNER BISCHOF (1916-1954) is recognised as one of history’s most influential photographers. During his lifetime he received international recognition for his outstanding and innovative photography. He became the first non-founder to be inducted into the fledgling Magnum collective in 1949, following his extensive documentation of the devastation across Europe in the aftermath of World War II, joining Robert Capa, David ‘Chim’ Seymour, Henri Cartier-Bresson and George Rodger.
He began to embrace a more photojournalistic approach and, from 1951 to 1952, dedicated himself to documenting social and political issues across Asia. Bischof worked for national newspapers and magazines including LIFE and Paris Match, for which he worked as a war reporter in Vietnam.
His ground-breaking photographs informed many of the greats that were to follow. After visiting the U.S. in 1953, he travelled down to Mexico and Panama, before carrying onto Peru and Chile, which would be his final journey. Werner Bischof died on 16th May 1954, at the age of only 38, when the Jeep that he was travelling in veered off an Andean mountain road, killing all passengers, only nine days before Magnum founder Robert Capa lost his life in Indochina.
In 1966 MARIO CARNICELLI (b. 1937), won first place in a national Italian photography competition, the prize was a scholarship to photograph America. Carnicelli approached the country as an outsider, and yet his perspective managed to capture the essence of the American experience. He was fascinated by the freedom offered by America, with its mix of cultures and traditions, its fashion and individuality, but at the same time he was aware of a pervading loneliness and rootlessness in people separated from family and clan.
With an eye informed by New Wave cinema, Carnicelli’s photographs are truly compelling, offering a view of the American dream that is both optimistic and contemplative. Unseen since the 1960s and only recently unearthed, Carnicelli’s images were shown for the first time at David Hill Gallery in 2018. In 2022, Mario Carnicelli was awarded the lifetime achievement award at the inaugural Prix Viviane Esders. Mario is currently working on a new monograph that will cover his 1964 series documenting the funeral of Togliatti, the three 1960s trips to the United States, and his South East Asian street photography.
HAROLD FEINSTEIN (1931-2015) began his career in photography in 1946 at the age of 15 and became one of the most prominent figures in the vanguard of the New York City street photography scene, known for his celebrated portraits of Coney Island in the 1950s. He joined the famed Photo League when he was 17 and at the age of 19, Feinstein’s work was acquired by Edward Steichen for the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA). He was included in shows at the Whitney Museum of American Art in 1954 and at the Museum of Modern Art in 1957. Feinstein also had a solo show at the legendary Helen Gee’s Limelight Gallery in 1957.
Despite this early success, Feinstein’s extensive collection of classic street photography, nudes, portraits and still life have seldom been exhibited, although that is now changing. In addition to more recent gallery shows, a Harold Feinstein retrospective will take place at Arles in 2023.
LARRY FINK (b .1941) shoots from the hip, taking snapshot-like photographs that break through surface appearances, capturing tender, awkward moments that reveal the fragility of human beings. Under the tutelage of the pioneering photographer Lisette Model, and in line with Diane Arbus, Robert Frank, and Garry Winogrand, Fink photographs all kinds of people—from the rich and famous to the poverty-stricken—with an eye for unguarded gestures and situations. As he explains: “I don’t distort. I comment honestly and make pictures of my perceptions.” Fink’s photography has been exhibited at MoMA and the Whitney Museum in New York.
MARC RIBOUD (1923-2016) was one of the generation of French photojournalists who formed the core of Magnum Photos in the immediate postwar years. His own longevity was matched by that of his output, which ran from his first snapshots of the 1937 Paris Exhibition to international coverage of people’s lives across Asia and Africa, Japan and the US, and into the new millennium, documenting “the grace of everyday life, especially in sun-drenched parts of the world”
Bringing together the photographs of these artists in a single exhibition provides greater insight into their work, the era, and the importance of the genre.
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