Monday, May 18, 2009
Tuesday, May 5, 2009
From 1936 through 1951, the Photo League offered classes, exhibitions, lectures, and
friendship to New Yorkers united by an interest in photography and, as Erika Stone recalled, an
idealistic desire to “make the world a better place.” Teachers such as Paul Strand, Aaron
Siskind and Sid Grossman insisted that strong documents also had to be excellent pictures, a
philosophy nurtured by lecturers Beaumont Newhall, Ansel Adams, and W. Eugene Smith. At
the Photo League, professionals and amateurs alike joined to use the darkroom and enjoyed
lively discussions at every gathering. Their monthly journal, Photo Notes, was filled with gossip
and jokes along with serious criticism and reviews. The League sponsored exhibitions when no
museum (including MoMA) had galleries devoted to photography.
In 1947, the Photo League appeared on a long list of organizations identified with the
Communist Party. Efforts to counter the allegation included a large exhibition, This Is the Photo
League, with photographs by members and supporters such as Rudy Burckhardt, Nancy
Newhall, and Lisette Model. But in 1949, Angela Calomiris, a League member and F.B.I.
informant, publicly testified that members of the organization were Communist. The League
disbanded in 1951, a casualty of the Red Scare.
Posted by idlehands at 6:26 PM