Coney Island, NY

Sid Grossman American

Not on view

Co-founder of the left leaning Photo League in the 1930s, Grossman is perhaps the crucial link between socially concerned photography of the 1930s and the so-called "New York School" of street photographers who emerged after World War II (Grossman served as a photographer in the US Army). This work is from his seminal series devoted to beachgoers at Coney Island. It was at Coney Island that Grossman moved in closer to his subjects and sacrificed traditionally balanced composition for off-kilter framing; the results are by turns balletic and ebullient or, as in this image, sensual and mysterious. The "bubble" at center (from a toxic novelty toy of the time that yielded longer lasting bubbles) is presented to the viewer like a crystal ball or memento mori--a time-sensitive offering highlighting photography's purchase on the fleeting and evanescent.

Coney Island, NY, Sid Grossman (American, 1913–1955), Gelatin silver print

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