A tale of collective ingenuity and individual perseverance in the shadow of national crisis is the subject of Lewis Hine: The WPA National Research Project Photographs, 1936-37, on view at Howard Greenberg Gallery from April 15 through July 2. The Great Depression ravaged the United States in the 1930s, producing extreme levels of poverty and unemployment with a deep and penetrating social pessimism to match. Whereas some photographic endeavors of the time sought to document the misery and misfortune of those hardest hit by these conditions, Lewis Hine set out to photograph the opposite: the optimism taking hold in the nation’s most technologically advanced sites of production, and the persistence and skill of the factory workers who made all of it a reality.
After the financial crisis of the 1970’s decimated New York City’s public programs and infrastructure, the subway in particular was arguably at its nadir in terms of maintenance, upkeep, and crime as the decade came to a close. It was precisely at this moment, however, that Bruce Davidson began photographing it in a sustained and systematic way. The subway he traversed then, from the Bronx down to Coney Island and Rockaway Beach, seems a distant image from the one we ride today. Howard Greenberg and Bruce Davidson sat down recently over Zoom to discuss Davidson’s now-classic project “Subway”. The following conversation has been edited and condensed for clarity.
Howard Greenberg Gallery opened its Online Viewing Room to Pieter Henkel’s Congo Tales, which explores cultural mythologies of the local inhabitants of the Congo Basin, containing some of the largest tropical rainforests in the world. The 2017 series has rarely been exhibited, and this is the first time the work is on view through a U.S. gallery.
The World is Full of Endless Things: Saul Leiter’s New Yorkis now in the Online Viewing Room at Howard Greenberg Gallery New York. The exhibition is a wonderful ode to New York, exploring Leiter’s nearly seventy-years in a City he loved ~ and in particular, the East Village where he lived beginning in 1952.
His mother gave him his first camera at age 12, and this seed planted bloomed at age 23, when he left theology school and moved to New York City. Aside from street photography, Leiter worked as a fashion photographer for twenty years, publishing in such well-known publications as Elle, Vogue, Esquire and Harper’s Bazaar, to name just a few.
Depicting challenges impoverished Americans were enduring at the time, with photographs by Dorothea Lange, Walker Evans, and Gordon Parks, among others, the exhibition, One Third of a Nation: The Photographs of the Farm Security Administration, demonstrates the extraordinary power of photography to define an era and inspire social change. Although the exhibition was planned months before the current pandemic situation, the images now take on a new relevance. The exhibition is now in the Howard Greenberg Gallery Viewing Room.