"THE RADICAL CAMERA: NEW YORK'S PHOTO LEAGUE" AT THE JEWISH MUSEUMNov. 1, 2011
Today's Occupy Wall Street protests are an uncanny echo of similar marches held during the Great Depression, as can be seen in "The Radical Camera: New York's Photo League, 1936-1951," which opens at the Jewish Museum, Nov. 4, 2011-Mar. 25, 2012. The exhibition of nearly 150 vintage photographs by more than 70 photographers traces the history of the New York-based Photo League, a group of mostly Jewish photographers that was launched in the earliest days of newspaper and magazine photojournalism, and that disbanded in 1950, a victim of "Red Scare" blacklisting during the Cold War.
hoto League members in the show include Lisette Model, Ruth Orkin, Aaron Siskind, W. Eugene Smith and Weegee, among others. Many of the images have overt sociopolitical content, like the photo of demonstrators holding "slums must go" signs in the 1936 May Day Parade by Joe Schwartz (b. 1913) or the 1938 picture of a picket line, Break the Grip of Exploitation, by Alexander Alland (1902-89). Others are more subtle, as in the formal, almost abstract photo of Epstein's Clothing bargain store on the Bowery, with a sign in its window announcing that it accepted government-relief tickets as payment, by Lucy Ashjian (1907-93).
The exhibition is jointly organized by Jewish Museum curator Mason Klein and Columbus Museum of Art photo curator Catherine Evans. After its debut in New York, the show appears in Columbus (Apr. 19-Sept. 9, 2012), the Contemporary Jewish Museum in San Francisco (Oct. 11, 2012-Jan. 21, 2013) and the Norton Museum of Art in West Palm Beach (Feb. 9-Apr. 21, 2013). The survey is accompanied by a 248-page catalogue from Yale University Press ($50), with essays by the two curators as well as by Anne Wilkes Tucker, Maurice Berger and Michael Lesy.