Lecture Description

Beginning in the 1930s, Jewish photographers established a new mode of American street photography, the origins of what would be called the New York School. Mostly working-class young people, some not yet out of high school, they produced a striking cultural efflorescence. Many were attracted by progressive politics. These neophytes rejected standard representations of New York as a vertical, inhumanly scaled Gotham. Despite their eagerness to join a burgeoning field of photography, they declined to portray city residents as ciphers defined by victimization. Instead they tried to capture the evanescent matrix of human interactions at street level. They set out to remake photography and the way New Yorkers were perceived. In the process, they changes how we understand America.


Jewish Photography

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