In 1959, a photographer named Larry Siegel opened a gallery dedicated exclusively to photography in a small storefront on East 10th Street in New York City. The Image Gallery, which remained open until 1962, showed the work of leading photographers including Rudy Burckhardt, Sid Grossman, Saul Leiter, Duane Michals, Charles Pratt, and Garry Winogrand, becoming one of the earliest models for exhibiting photography as an art form. Howard Greenberg Gallery will present The Image Gallery Redux: 1959-1962 from January 9 – February 22, 2014. The exhibition will feature the work of 22 photographers whose work was shown at that legendary gallery. An opening reception will be held on January 9 from 6-8 p.m.
“In those days, photographic prints were not well known,” Larry Siegel notes. “People would walk in, point to the wall, and ask, ‘What’s that?’ They thought I had cut the images out of a magazine!”
The early history of photography galleries in New York City is quite brief. Few had attempted to exhibit photographs commercially prior to the birth of the photography market in the 1970s. Helen Gee’s Limelight Gallery, with its adjoining coffeehouse, exhibited photographs from 1954 to 1961 in Greenwich Village. Roy DeCarava founded A Photographer’s Gallery on the Upper West Side, which was open from 1954 to 1957. Before then, Alfred Stieglitz’s Little Galleries of the Photo-Succession (1905-1908) and 291 Gallery (1908-1917), along with the Julien Levy Gallery (1931-1949) showed photographs alongside paintings, drawings, and sculptures, striving to elevate the medium of photography.
A meeting place for photographers, The Image Gallery attracted a wide range of important artists. Eugene Smith stopped by early to visit the first exhibition and ended up helping to hang the show when Larry Siegel realized that he had never done so himself. Two photographers who showed their work at the gallery were neighborhood residents; Saul Leiter lived across the street, and Robert Frank lived around the corner and would stop by regularly. Other visitors included the photographers Ansel Adams, Roman Vishniac, Aaron Siskind, and Minor White, as well as writers from The New York Times and The Village Voice, who reviewed exhibitions regularly. The Image Gallery gave Duane Michals his first gallery show, and Garry Winogrand his first solo show in New York City. The gallery also presented a Eugène Atget exhibition before his show at The Museum of Modern Art. Works by Walker Evans, Robert Frank, and Helen Levitt were donated to the gallery for a holiday exhibition.
The Image Gallery Redux: 1959-1962 will explore the work of photographers involved with the Image Gallery, including the early work of many who were just beginning their careers. The exhibition will present photography by Gert Berliner, Lou Bernstein, Sheldon Brody, Rudy Burckhardt, John Cohen, Martin Dain, Arthur Freed, Sid Grossman, Charles Harbutt, Dave Heath, Simpson Kalisher, Saul Leiter, Duane Michals, Enrico Natali, Charles Pratt, Steve Schapiro, Larry Siegel, Ann Treer, Kenneth Van Sickle, David Vestal, Garry Winogrand, and Jasper Wood.
Tuesday - Saturday
From 10am to 6pm
- Larry Siegel – Man on Bowery, NYC, 1960, Courtesy of the artist / Howard Greenberg Gallery, New York
- Ann Treer – Parking Lot, Manhattan, 1960, Courtesy of the artist / Robert Mann Gallery, New York
- Simpson Kalisher – Untitled, 1961, Courtesy of the artist / Keith de Lellis Gallery, New York
- John Cohen – Family on Front Porch, Hazard, Kentucky, 1959, Courtesy of the artist / L. Parker Stephenson Photographs, New York
- Saul Leiter – Party, 1954, Courtesy of the artist / Howard Greenberg Gallery, New York
- Kenneth Van Sickle – Toile, 1962, Courtesy of the artist / Howard Greenberg Gallery, New York