An intriguing glimpse at New York City in the 1930s & '40s by legendary Sid Grossman

Sid Grossman, Untitled, 1948

In a short career, ended by his untimely death at age 42, New York native Sid Grossman left an indelible mark as an artist and teacher on the photography of his era and beyond.

In 1936, Grossman and his friend Sol Libsohn co-founded the Photo League, the left-leaning, socially conscious photographers’ cooperative and school. Photographing at a very close distance and using blur and off-kilter compositions, Grossman’s work of the late 1940s anticipates the work of many better known street photographers of the 1950s and 1960s.

Now, the first solo exhibition in 30 years to explore the legacy of Grossman will be on view at the Howard Greenberg Gallery from January 12 – February 11, 2017. The exhibition coincides with the publication of a new monograph, The Life and Work of Sid Grossman, published by Steidl/Howard Greenberg Library, with an essay by the curator and photo historian Keith F. Davis.

“Grossman’s vision of creative photography changed the lives of many around him and resulted in a body of work of major historical importance,” Davis writes in the book. Among the many photographers who were taught or influenced directly by Grossman are Sy Kattelson, Leon Levinstein, and Lisette Model. More broadly, traits of Grossman’s work and philosophy can be seen in the work of Ted Croner, Roy DeCarava, Louis Faurer, Robert Frank, William Klein, and Saul Leiter as well as Garry Winogrand and a younger generation of 1960s artists.

The exhibition surveys 35 photographs by Grossman, from his own neighbourhood of Chelsea, to Little Italy and Coney Island, as well as in Central America during World War II, while serving as a photographer in the U.S. Army.

The exhibition will include a small selection of work by some of Sid Grossman’s students including Arthur Leipzig, Rebecca Lepkoff, Leon Levinstein, and Ruth Orkin.

Main image: Sid Grossman, Untitled, 1948 | All images courtesy of Howard Greenberg Gallery

Sid Grossman, Union Square, NYC (from the series "Chelsea Document"), 1938-39

Sid Grossman, Union Square, NYC (from the series "Chelsea Document"), 1938-39

Sid Grossman, Coney Island, 1947-48

Sid Grossman, Coney Island, 1947-48

Sid Grossman, Aguadulce, Panama, c.1945

Sid Grossman, Aguadulce, Panama, c.1945

Sid Grossman, Woody Guthrie, c.1948

Sid Grossman, Woody Guthrie, c.1948

Sid Grossman, Untitled (from the series "Chelsea Document"), 1938-39

Sid Grossman, Untitled (from the series "Chelsea Document"), 1938-39

Sid Grossman, Coney Island, c.1947-48

Sid Grossman, Coney Island, c.1947-48

Sid Grossman, Untitled, 1939

Sid Grossman, Untitled, 1939

Sid Grossman, Coney Island, 1947

Sid Grossman, Coney Island, 1947

Sid Grossman, New York Recent, 1947/48

Sid Grossman, New York Recent, 1947/48

Sid Grossman, Mulberry Street, September 1948

Sid Grossman, Mulberry Street, September 1948