[Two Young Women before Pastry Shop at Night, Mulberry Street, Feast of San Gennaro, New York]

Artist: Sid Grossman (American, 1913–1955)

Date: 1948

Medium: Gelatin silver print

Dimensions: 21.5 x 32.6 cm (8 7/16 x 12 13/16 in.)

Classification: Photographs

Credit Line: Purchase, The Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation Gift, through Joyce and Robert Menschel, 1990

Accession Number: 1990.1139.1

Rights and Reproduction: © Estate of Sid Grossman / Courtesy Howard Greenberg Gallery, NYC


Whether he trained his camera on exuberant summer scenes on the beaches of Coney Island or the intimate corners of Mulberry Street during the San Gennaro festival, as here, Grossman was one of the greatest chroniclers of working-class life in New York during the late 1930s and 1940s. The tilt of the camera, which pushes most of the figures in this image into the lower right corner, and the frame's abrupt bisection of the two male figures makes the lively atmosphere on the street palpable. But as is typical of Grossman, the viewer is not allowed to enjoy the scene in blissful anonymity. The direct stare of the man on the left makes us an engaged participant in the scene rather than an aloof flâneur, rendering the experience of the picture not just an aesthetic dalliance, but a social activity as well.