New York’s Photo League at The Jewish Museum


Coney Island, 1947. © Sid Grossman

The Radical Camera: New York’s Photo League, 1936-1951

Exhibition on view:
November 4, 2011–March 25, 2012

The Jewish Museum
1109 5th Ave
New York, NY
(212) 423-3200

The Jewish Museum of New York will be exhibiting The Radical Camera, a collection of photographs from the influential Photo League. Based in New York City, The Photo League consisted of young, politically progressive artists (many of whom were first generation Jewish Americans) that were shooting from the mid 1930s to the early 1950s. Interested in capturing their direct surroundings, League members documented the urban landscape of New York City during the turbulent times of the late Depression, World War II, and early Cold War eras. The League also created a collaborative center which offered affordable classes, darkroom facilities, and free lectures and social events for photographers.

Although they dismantled during the Red Scare of the McCarthy era, the legacy of The Photo League continues to influence documentary photographers. Aperture has published the work of several Photo League artists and those works include Lisette Model’s self-titled monograph and Paul Strand’s Paul Strand in Mexico. Aperture’s current Fall issue (204) includes an article by Mary Panzer about The Photo League’s legacy.