The Radical Camera: New York’s Photo League, 1936-1951

March 14, 2013 - June 16, 2013

In 1936, a group of young, idealistic photographers, most of them Jewish, first-generation Americans, formed an organization in Manhattan called the Photo League. Their solidarity centered on a belief in the expressive power of the documentary photograph, and on a progressive alliance in the 1930s of socialist ideas and art. (The Photo League also helped validate photography as a fine art, presenting student work and guest exhibitions by established photographers.) The Radical Camera presents the development of the documentary photograph during a tumultuous period that spanned the New Deal reforms of the Depression, World War II, and the Cold War. Offering classes, mounting exhibitions, and fostering community, members of the Photo League focused on social reform and the power of the photograph to motivate change. At the height of their influence, their membership included the most important photographers of their day including Berenice Abbot, Aaron Siskind, Barbara Morgan, Sid Grossman, Weegee (Arthur Fellig), and Lisette Model. Featuring more than 175 works by these artists as well as many more Photo League members, The Radical Camera traces the organization’s interests, attitudes toward photography, and impact during its 15-year lifespan.

The Radical Camera: New York's Photo League, 1936-1951  has been organized by The Jewish Museum, New York, and the Columbus Museum of Art, Ohio.

Major support was provided by the Phillip and Edith Leonian Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, and Limited Brands Foundation.

Local presentation of this exhibition is made possible in part by Mr. and Mrs. William J. Soter.

With additional support by The Gioconda and Joseph King Endowment for Exhibitions and The Sydelle and Arthur I. Meyer Endowment Fund.
Media support provided by The Palm Beach Post.