Monday, April 27, 2009

Who's Almost Who In Knickerbocker Village History: Walter Rosenblum

Walter lived at 161 Rivington Street and on Pitt Street and attended Seward Park High School. His Pitt Street series included pictures taken at Coleman Oval Park.
Biographical and Image informational sources:
The Walter Rosenblum site
The Getty Museum
The Gallery M
Walter Rosenblum was born in 1919 into a poor Jewish immigrant family living on New York’s Lower East Side. His mother died when he was sixteen and to comfort himself he borrowed a camera and began to photograph in his neighborhood. He took a photography course at the Boys’ Club where he had a part-time job as part of Roosevelt’s National Youth Administration, and in 1937 he joined the Photo League, an extraordinarily vibrant community of New York photographers. It was there that he met Lewis Hine, Berenice Abbott, Elizabeth McCausland and other notables in the world of photography. He studied with Paul Strand (who became a life-long friend), and worked on his first major project, the Pitt Street series. The League not only provided darkroom space and equipment but also organized lectures and exhibits — Adams, Cartier-Bresson, Doisneau, Lange, Weston, Weegee — and published the legendary Photo Notes, of which Rosenblum was editor for several years. Appointed president in 1941, Rosenblum would be an active member of the League until it folded in 1952 as a result of being included on the Attorney General’s 1947 list of subversive organizations.
Drafted in 1943 as a U.S. Army Signal Corp combat photographer, Rosenblum landed on a Normandy beach on D-Day morning, after which he joined an anti-tank battalion in its liberation drive through France, Germany and Austria. One of the most decorated photographers of the Second World War, he took the first motion picture footage of the Dachau concentration camp. Rosenblum had an extensive teaching career, beginning in 1947 at Brooklyn College, where he taught until his retirement in 1986. Young MinerHe also taught at the Yale Summer School of Art and The Cooper Union, as well as abroad in Arles, France, in Sao Paolo, Brazil, and in Lestans, Italy. In 1980 he received a Guggenheim Fellowship for his project, “People of the South Bronx.
Following in Hine’s footsteps, Rosenblum’s work registers the impact on ordinary people — particularly children — of some of the major events of the twentieth century, from economic depression to colonialism and armed conflict. Working in East Harlem, Haiti, Europe, and the South Bronx, he was drawn to situations that revealed the experiences of immigrants and the poor.

About some of the photos seen in the pdf document above
A group of men and boys, gathered at the entrance of Chick's Candy Store, pass the time in conversation in this photograph taken on a chilly New York day. All eyes are on one man in particular, who confidently leans against the shop window, one hand in his pocket, the other gesturing animatedly. This photograph was made in a working-class neighborhood in the Lower East Side in 1938, during the worst year of the Depression. The subjects' well-dressed appearance suggests that they are probably employed. The woman seated in the doorway beside the candy store, entertained by activity along the street, conveys the sense of dejection that many felt during this time. For generations, local shops in New York City have continued to serve as gathering places for neighborhood residents.
Rosenblum made this photograph in the neighborhood where he grew up. The image is part of a larger photographic essay on Pitt Street that was made over a six-month period. In 1950, Rosenblum returned to Pitt Street, making a second series of photographs documenting the vulnerability and hopefulness evident in the neighborhood.

Walter Rosenblum captured this image of a vulnerable young boy on a rooftop in New York's Lower East Side. Wedged into a corner of zigzagging walls and dwarfed by the city around him, the boy appears to be trapped. Behind him, the Williamsburg Bridge, which connects Manhattan to Brooklyn, hints at the world beyond the big city.
Known for its tenement housing, the Lower East Side has been home to lower- and middle-class people, particularly immigrants, since the 1900s. Its residents often found relief from crowded apartments and chaotic streets by climbing to their rooftops. Rosenblum made this photograph as part of a second series of images on Pitt Street, where he grew up. Both series' of images celebrate the common dignity of people found in a closely-knit neighborhood.

In this image by Walter Rosenblum, a young girl with polio stands apart from the crowd, staring at the photographer. Rosenblum made this portrait along Rivington Street in New York's Lower East Side. While the girl gazes at him, all other eyes are drawn toward what appears to have been a scuffle between some boys. This scene documents the type of everyday activity with which Rosenblum would have been familiar. Rosenblum made the picture in the Lower East Side neighborhood where he grew up. This image is part of Rosenblum's photographic essay entitled "Pitt Street," which documents the daily life of residents in this community. Rosenblum undertook the project in response to an assignment by the Photo League, an association of photographers dedicated to socially conscious documentary work. The Pitt Street project forecast the direction of Rosenblum's career, which has continued to explore urban neighborhoods in the South Bronx, Harlem, and Haiti.

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