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Fred Stein (German, 1909–1967)
LOT ID: 74869
New York, ie. circa 1940

Silver Print, gelatin silver print
9 х 7 in. (22.86 x 17.78 cm.)
Stamped, on verso.
Print/Casting Year ie. circa 1940
Lot description
Vintage gelatin silver print.

Fred Stein (1909 – 1967) was born in Germany and fled to Paris in 1933 with his new wife, Liselotte Salzburg, under the pretext of taking a honeymoon. In this fertile milieu, Stein began taking photographs professionally. He was a pioneer of the small, hand-held camera, and with the Leica which he and his wife had purchased as a joint wedding present, he went into the streets to photograph scenes of life in Paris. Among his early pictures were portraits of friends such as Hannah Arendt, Willy Brandt, Arthur Koestler and Andre Malraux (all of whom he photographed over a period of 30 years).

When Germany declared war on France in 1939, Stein was put in an internment camp. He managed to escape, and met his wife and baby girl in Marseilles, where they obtained visas through the efforts of the Emergency Rescue Committee. On May 7,1941, the three boarded the S.S. Winnipeg, one of the last boats to leave France. They carried the Leica and some negatives among their few belongings. In New York, Stein continued his photography while his wife worked to support them. He was an astute social observer, walking through the streets of New York, documenting life from Fifth Avenue to Harlem. He worked unobtrusively and quickly, presenting his subject as sole content, never as interesting or incidental material for photographic interpretation. He preferred natural or minimal lighting, and avoided elaborate setups as well as dramatic effects. He did not retouch or manipulate the negative. Stein was a member of the Photo League until he became disenchanted with their pro-Communist sympathies. Though portraits were his main income generating work and he photographed many people on commission, he generally worked without assignment, prizing the freedom of shooting people and scenes that interested him.
New York by Fred Stein
  • New York by Fred Stein
  • New York by Fred Stein
  • New York by Fred Stein
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