The Life and Work of Sid Grossman

 

One of the most pleasurable aspects of The Life and Work of Sid Grossman is that it renews the faith of photo book lovers like me, that there are still people who believe that attention to detail and fine craftsmanship makes a difference

The book is beautifully designed and printed. It is a joy to just hold in your hands and read.

If for nothing else, the fact that Sid Grossman co-founded the Photo League, he would be one of the most important figures in 20th century photography. But as the book illustrates, his obsessive documenting of New York City and Coney Island he was a major figure in establishing the street photography aesthetic.

The Life and Work of Sid Grossman presents over 150 images from all aspects of his short life.  The book includes work from projects including “Chelsea Document, 1938-1939”, “Harlem, 1939”, “Guatemala and Panama, 1945-1946”, Coney Island, 1947-1948”, and “Folk and Blues Musicians, 1940’s” which includes portraits of Woodie Guthrie, Josh White, Big Bill Broonzy, and Billie Holiday.

From the press release:
Sid Grossman and his photographs were largely forgotten after his untimely death in 1955 at the age of forty-two. One of the founders of the left-leaning Photo League (1936–51), Grossman was labeled a Communist and blacklisted in 1949. A demanding and capricious teacher who challenged his students to think critically about all aspects of their photography, Grossman’s own approach to image-making and his remarkable body of work were constantly evolving. This monograph, the first comprehensive survey of Sid Grossman’s life and work, contains more than 150 photographs that demonstrate Grossman’s enduring talent and depth. The images range from his early social documentary work of the late 1930s to the more personal and dynamic street photography of the late 1940s, as well as late experiments with abstraction in both black and white and color. It features a biographical and critical essay by the renowned curator and photo historian, Keith F. Davis, which traces Grossman’s evolution as a photographer and examines his considerable influence as a teacher. The book concludes with an extensive selection of excerpts from a transcript of tape recordings of a course that Grossman taught in the spring of 1950 in which he expounds his views on photography, art, and creativity.
Co-published with Howard Greenberg Gallery, New York

Biography:
Sid Grossman was born in New York in 1913. In 1938, Grossman and his friend Sol Libsohn co-founded the New York Photo League, a left-leaning, socially conscious photographers’ cooperative and school. Grossman’s early photography was very much in the social documentary tradition, while his work began to evolve into a more personal and dynamic style during World War II. These changes came to fruition in his best-known photographs made in the late 1940s — images of New York’s Little Italy and Coney Island. Photographing at a very close distance and using blur and off-kilter compositions, his images are a precursor to the work of many better-known street photographers of the 1950s and ’60s. Grossman died of a heart attack in 1955.

The facts:
The Life and Work of Sid Grossman
Edited by Keith F. Davis
252 pages, 150 images
Four-color process
Hardback / Clothbound
More information here.

Sid Grossman, Sonny Terry, c.1948. copyright Howard Greenberg Galley

Sid Grossman, Mulberry Street, 1948. copyright Howard Greenberg Galley

Sid Grossman, Coney Island, 1947-1948. copyright Howard Greenberg Galley

Sid Grossman, Black Christ, 1945. copyright Howard Greenberg Galley

Sid Grossman, Girl with Notebook, 1938-1939. copyright Howard Greenberg Galley