web analytics
June 30, 2015 / 13 Tammuz, 5775
At a Glance
Sections
Sponsored Post


Home » Sections » Arts »

Jews and Social Conscience Through Photography


McBee-030212-FrontPg

Playing Football (1939) Gelatin silver print by Harold Corsini. Courtesy The Jewish Museum

Harold Corsini utilizes a similar perspective to create a haunting image of street sports in Playing Football (1939), part of the Harlem Document. Here the raking sunlight creates fantastically abstract shapes of cast shadows on the street. The man caught in mid-run appears suspended, as if the mere act of playing a sport allows him to levitate from the mundane reality of street life.

The photographers who were part of the Photo League were dedicated to every possible aspect of urban life that was going through enormous change in the 1930’s and 1940’s. Waves of new immigrants arrived to constantly shift the mix of race and ethnicity, creating a vibrant and shifting social scene. Sol Libsohn’s Hester Street(1945) documents this kind of flux so typical of many New York neighborhoods. Once the heart of the Jewish Lower East Side, by the 1940’s the street had yielded to many other immigrants. The diversity is further reflected in that the image captures almost every person in the crowd looking in different directions, framed by dual eyes of the eyeglass shops on the right and left edges. Libsohn’s photo seems to summarize the underlying alienation amid the urban bustle.

Hester Street (1945) Gelatin silver print by Sol Libsohn. Courtesy The Jewish Museum

And yet amid all of the difficulties, struggles and stresses of city life, there are persistent images of hope and joy that make life ultimately worthwhile. Walter Rosenblum’s Girl on a Swing, Pitt Street, New York (1938) returns us to the unblemished joy of a summer day, to what it means to grow up in the city in the shadow of its great bridges, as Rosenblum himself did. We know the playground still exists on Cherry Street at Market Slip, thanks to the Jewish Museum’s interactive website (www.thejewishmuseum.org) that not only locates all the images on maps of Harlem, Midtown, Downtown and Coney Island, but also adds rich historical and critical material to further contextualize the exhibition’s images.

The Jewish Museum’s “Radical Camera” is a thrilling, beautiful exhibition that documents the development of socially conscious photography, primarily in New York City. It was a time of great challenges and great change, uptown, downtown and all around. These intensely creative, sensitive and insightful photographers all had a hand in capturing a time when New York and its people were entering the turbulent heart of the 20th century. Isn’t it interesting that the vast majority of them happened to be Jews?

Richard McBee is a painter and writer on Jewish Art. Contact him at rmcbee@nyc.rr.com.

About the Author: Richard McBee is a painter and writer on Jewish Art. Contact him at rmcbee@nyc.rr.com


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “Jews and Social Conscience Through Photography”

Comments are closed.

Current Top Story
Tzvi  at Cemetery of Mount of Olives
Jewish Press Blogger Stoned on Mount of Olives!
Latest Sections Stories
Respler-062615

It is very hard to build a healthy marriage when you do not have good role models.

On-The-Bookshelf-logo

My best book is one that hasn’t been published yet.

We tend to justify and idealize this division with pride attributing these tendencies as demonstrating a higher level of kedushah.

Everyone in the kehilla can get involved, she added, and mothers can network with each other.

On her first ever trip to Israel last week, popular radio talk-show personality and clinical psychologist Dr. Joy Browne, whose spirited broadcasts regularly attract millions of listeners across North America, paid a visit to OneFamily headquarters in Jerusalem in order to learn more about the physical and emotional challenges faced by victims of terror in […]

With the famous Touro Synagogue, a variety of mansions, each with its own distinct personality, as well as the beautiful coast, Rhode Island makes for an excellent vacation spot.

To avoid all this waste and unnecessary anxiety, let’s break the task down step by step and tackle each one at a time.

While there are those who insist they need full-color photos to be truly entranced by a recipe, I suggest you get over that particular requirement because the written word here will draw you in and cause you to salivate as you peruse the recipes scattered throughout The Well-Spiced Life (Israel Book Shop).

For those who couldn’t go off base, a personal parcel was priceless in its ability to convey a feeling of home.

With the danger of being discovered always a possibility, the partisans not only moved around in the forest, but also eliminated any collaborators.

We never cease to be students, even when we are no longer in school. Therefore, everyone can learn from these elements of thought.

Whether the rest of us admit it or not, covers draw our attentions and create the initial impressions we have with books.

More Articles from Richard McBee
Jerusalem to Jericho Road: photograph by Chanan Getraide
“Chanan Getraide Photographs”: 2004 exhibition at Hebrew Union College Museum

“We are living in a Golden Age of Jewish Art, but don’t know it.”

McBee-062014-Outside

He refuses to flinch from our painful history, perhaps finding a kind of solace in the consistency of irrational enmity directed against us.

“Vidduy: The Musical” breaks through the formidable barrier of repetitive confession to allow us to begin to understand what is at the heart of this fundamental religious act.

A fascinating glimpse into the rich complexity of medieval Jewish life and its contemporary relevance had intriguingly emerged.

Silverstein’s work has long concerned itself with the intersection between the personal and Jewish Biblical narrative, significantly explored in this column in “Brighton Beach Bible” (July 27, 2009).

Not surprisingly the guardians of synagogue tradition is male dominated in both Moses Abraham, Cantor and Mohel and Synagogue Lamp Lighters.

Neither helpless victims nor able to escape the killer’s clutches, the leaders had to make impossible choices on a daily basis in a never-ending dance with the devil.

Bradford has opted to fully exploit the diverse possibilities of the physical surface by concentrating on the three-dimensional application of paint (impasto) and other material.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/arts/jews-and-social-conscience/2012/03/01/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: