Reflections on a lifetime of photography: a conversation with Harold Feinstein and friends followed by a book party and signing.
Aperture Gallery, December 17, 6-9pm
Called by historian and photo critic A.D. Coleman, a true photographer’s photographer, and one of the most seriously under-recognized senior figures in U.S. photography,” the 82 year old master photographer and legendary teacher of photography, Harold Feinstein, is finally celebrating the publication of his first black and white monograph, Harold Feinstein: A Retrospective, published by Nazraeli in December 2012. To mark the occasion, Feinstein will share memories of a lifetime of photography with A.D. Coleman, along with colleagues and former students. Following the conversation there will be a party during which Feinstein will sign copies of his beautiful new book.
The conversation, book signing, and festivities will take place on Monday, December 17 from 6-9pm at Aperture Gallery located in the heart of New York City’s Chelsea art district at 547 West 27th Street (between 10th/11th Avenues), 4th floor, New York, NY 10001. The event is free and open to the general public. During the event, signed limited edition posters of Feinstein’s iconic images of Coney Island will be on display and for sale at a special one night only price. All proceeds will go towards the Hurricane Sandy relief efforts of North Star Fund and #ConeyRecovers.
About the Artist:
Born in Coney Island Hospital in 1931, Feinstein first borrowed a neighbor’s Rollieflex at 15, and headed to the boardwalk of America’s favorite playground to begin what would become a lifelong love affair with Coney Island. Feinstein would produce a six-decade portfolio for which he is best known today. At 17, Feinstein joined New York’s Photo League, and at 19, Edward Steichen, an early supporter, purchased his work for The Museum of Modern Art making him the youngest person to be so honored. Several years later he was bound for Korea as a draftee with camera in hand, poignantly capturing the experiences of young men like himself snatched from places like the Coney Island boardwalk and sent off to war.
Returning from the war, Arnold Newman introduced him to W. Eugene Smith with whom he worked closely for a number of years. As an original inhabitant of the famous “jazz loft” at 821 6th Avenue, Feinstein dove into the burgeoning avant-garde at the intersection of jazz, art and literature, becoming a designer of Blue Note record covers. True to his innate counter culture sensibilities, Feinstein has ever been the iconoclast. He eschewed Steichen’s invitation to contribute multiple images to The Family of Man exhibit, utilized photomontage and other forms of printing manipulation at a time when it was unpopular to do so, and in his later career moved from small camera black and white work to large format digital color photography which earned him the Smithsonian Computerworld award in 2001.
Feinstein had his first exhibitions at the Whitney Museum of American Art in 1954, and at the Museum of Modern Art in 1957. At the peak of his early success in the late 1950′s, Feinstein moved out of New York City to raise his young family, and didn’t return for several decades. What he brought with him during that time was his growing reputation as a teacher and mentor, whose workshops influenced a generation of aspiring photographers. Armed with an ardent philosophy of creativity and an eternally appreciative eye, Feinstein has witnessed, taken part in, and influenced some of photography’s seminal movements of the past six years.
About the Retrospective:
The centerpiece of Feinstein’s stunning retrospective is a selection of his iconic photographs of Coney Island that has remained his favorite location to shoot throughout his career. In speaking about his affection for the famous boardwalk and diverse cross section of people that populate it, Feinstein once said, “I often feel like I fell out of my mother’s womb onto the beach in Coney Island with a Nathan’s hot dog in my hand with the sounds of kids screaming on the Cyclone.” From lovers on the boardwalk, to teenagers on the beach, to elderly bathers basking in the sun, to children diving into the surf, and whirling and tilting on amusement park rides, Feinstein’s work reflects his love of ordinary people.
The book includes Feinstein’s Korean War work recording the daily lives of his fellow draftees undergoing basic training, on duty at the front lines, and at ease in the barracks, as well as photographs culled from his massive archive of classic street photography along with some beautiful nudes and still life images. Asked to explain the seemingly vast differences between his color and black and white work, Feinstein simply says, “I just want to pay homage to the beauty of this life wherever I see it. I’m known for saying ‘when your mouth drops open, click the shutter.’ Truth is my mouth is constantly dropping open.”
It is precisely Feinstein’s love of what he sees in everyday life that has brought the most consistent praise from critics over the decades. In the book’s Introduction, Phillip Prodger, curator of photography at the Peabody Essex Museum writes: “For Feinstein, it does not matter what people do, where they come from, or what they look like. Their faces light up just the same, and their eyes sparkle with excitement. His subject is us-all of us-and our better nature.”
Harold Feinstein: A Retrospective had a pre-publication release in Boston in October 2012 to coincide with an accompanying exhibition at Boston’s Panopticon Gallery on view through January 8, 2013.
Harold Feinstein: A Retrospective
Publication Date Worldwide: December 2012
12″ x 13″ Hardcover
108 pages; 80 duotone plates; $65
502c Commonwealth Avenue
Boston, MA, 02215
Hurricane Sandy Relief websites:
North Star Fund