Like the ever-changing landscape of America’s largest city, so too did the work of renowned photographer Harold Feinstein (1931-2015) which continued to expand across the latter half of the 20th century. After the first exhibition covering the artist’s work during the 1940s and 1950s, Galerie Thierry Bigaignon now presents Graciously Yours, revisiting the 22-year period between 1966 and 1988 within which the artist documented the life and promise of New York.
Feinstein shifted focus from the sunny retreat of Coney Island to the depths of Manhattan’s streets, bringing an optimistic perspective and an embrace of the unexpected. Describing his images as “a small sampling of [his] photographic journey bearing witness of the beauty and mystery of this human life”, his findings offer an honest yet captivating glimpse of human experiences in the city’s many districts.
As such, the gallery showcases 21 photographs from 1966 to 1988 in homage to the photographer, who had been established as a prodigy from the beginning of his career at the age of 15. The youngest member of the Photo League, Feinstein had also secured a place within the permanent collection of the MoMA by age 19. A state of continual flux is depicted in the pictures, as opportunity and intrigue erupt from each immortalised moment. The skill of composition is demonstrated in Window Washer (1974), conveying the dizzying heights of the city’s high-rise buildings and the admirable contribution of all working people.
François Cheval, Curator and former Director of the Niece Museum, France, states that “Feinstein acts as if reality had to conform to the way he sees the world. Magnifying, with method, the latent beauty of everyday life, seems like a duty he imposed on himself. With this great ambition he took photography to another level, attaching a certain morality to it.” Reminding us to preserve the simple beauties, particularly in an overwhelming environment, the collection Graciously Yours runs until 31 August.
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1. Harold Feinstein, Window Washer, 1974.