New York Photo Review
Volume 5 Issue 6 February 11 to 17, 2014

The Genetic Wars by Barbara Confino

Available Light

The Image Gallery Redux (1959 - 1962)

Photo by Gert Berliner . Source: Gert Berliner, "No, c.1961" c.1961

Today, with millions of photographs at your fingertips and with photography galleries a well-established part of New York City’s art world, it may be hard to imagine a time in the late 1950s when there were few, if any, opportunities for emerging photographers to show their work. Helen Gee’s Limelight gallery in Greenwich Village exhibited photographs from 1954 to 1961; Roy DeCarava had operated A Photographer’s Gallery on the Upper West Side in the mid-1950s.

In 1959, photographer Larry Siegel realized a new venue was needed to exhibit photographs as fine art and opened the Image Gallery in a storefront on East 10th Street. For the next three years, emerging artists such as Sid Grossman, Saul Leiter, Gary Winogrand, Duane Michals and many other now legendary photographers had a new way to show their work. More than a gallery, it was also a meeting place for photographers to stop by and chat. Ansel Adams, Robert Frank, Aaron Siskind and Roman Vishniac were just some of the regular visitors. Can you imagine?

Photo by Charles Harbutt . Source: Charles Harbutt, "Trapeze" 1957

The show now at Howard Greenberg, The Image Gallery Redux: 1959 – 1962, is a wonderful, amazing tribute to both Larry Siegel and the photographers who exhibited there. Featuring the work of 22 artists, including that of Siegel, the show is a time capsule as well as a brief look at the early imagery of some now iconic names.

Photo by Larry Siegel . Source: Larry Siegel, "Car with hanging shirt, NYC

" 1956

Siegel is well represented, with 12 images—and they’re gorgeous. Among others, the deep tones of “Car with Hanging Shirt” (1956) and “Seated Woman in White Dress” (1960) show his mastery of light and shadow. It’s impossible to walk past without looking closely. Charles Harbutt’s selenium toned print, “Cat in Window, Madison Avenue”, reveals his sensibility. The hand written sign over an American flag leaves no question unanswered, simply saying “The cat has been provided for with food, water and shelter.” I like the casualness of “Man and House, Glassboro, NJ.” His ”Trapeze” is stunning— life comes out of the shadows. In Sid Grossman’s Coney Island series from the 1940s all that’s changed are the hairstyles and clothes. And I did a double take when I saw Enrico Natali’s NY subway series from 1960. His stealth technique reminded me of Walker Evans’ subway work. Saul Leiter’s black and white imagery was very strong—the photo of John Cage’s feet bathed in shadow pulls you into the image.

Photo by Johe=n Cohen . Source: Johe=n Cohen, "Roscoe Holcomb's Hands, 1959" 1959

There are names here I didn’t recognize…John Cohen, Martin Dain, Ann Treer and others...but all of their work hangs together. All of this work should be seen —and treasured.

The Image Gallery Redux (1959 - 1962)

Howard Greenberg
41 E 57th St. 14th Fl
Midtown         Map

212 334 0010

Thursday, January 9 to
Saturday, February 22, 2014
Hours: Tues - Sat, 10 to 6

Making Caribbean Dance by Susanna Sloat