Jerome Liebling (1924-2011) grew up Brooklyn, New York, a first-generation son of European immigrants. During World War II, Liebling served in the 82nd Airborne – he enlisted to fight for a cause he believed in but returned from military service with a staunch anti-war sentiment that endured his entire lifetime. Back home, Liebling enrolled at Brooklyn College under the G.I. Bill and studied design with the painter Ad Reinhardt and photography with Walter Rosenblum.


In 1948, Liebling joined the Photo League, a socially minded photographers’ cooperative, where, along with Paul Strand, W. Eugene Smith and Aaron Siskind, he took to the streets to focus his lens on undocumented corners of urban life. But the most edifying tenets of his creative vision were born on the depression-era streets of Bensonhurst, Brooklyn. Growing up a child of the Depression formed an impulse throughout his career, Liebling said, to “figure out where the pain was, to show things that people wouldn’t see unless I was showing them.”


In 1949, Liebling accepted a professorship at the University of Minnesota, where he established the school’s first photography and film program. There he began to make documentary films with a longtime collaborator, Allen Downs. Liebling moved to Amherst, Massachusetts in 1969 to head up the film, photography and video program at Hampshire College, where he taught for twenty years.  During his forty-year teaching career, Liebling’s educational philosophy had a powerful impact on generations of photographers and filmmakers. Former student, Ken Burns remembers Liebling as “a fierce warrior, insisting on a kind of justice, a kind of truth and an utterly American vitality. He saw in every individual his or her own worth.”  The story of his influences was the subject of a 2006 New York Times feature by Randy Kennedy:


Yale historian Alan Trachtenberg wrote that Liebling was not exactly a social or documentary photographer but rather a “civic photographer” whose work brought about a deep awareness of the personal in the political. He has been duly recognized for his poignant and unflinching portraits of American citizenry busied in the mundane and the brutal. Whether he was engaging with blood-soaked workers in a Minnesota slaughterhouse or with mental patients in a state hospital, cadavers or politicians, Liebling artfully traversed a gorge of emotions at once visceral and unnerving, poetic and revealing; and he did so with a deft mastery of light and space, and a profound appreciation of his subjects. He was rarely caught without his Rolleiflex twin-lens camera, and produced a distinguished six-decade body of work, now held in the permanent collections of world-renowned museums such as the Museum of Modern Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Smithsonian, and The J. Paul Getty Museum, among many others.


Selected Solo Exhibitions:
Jerome Liebling: Brooklyn and Other Boroughs, 1946-1996- Steven Kasher Gallery, New York
100+, Minneapolis Institute of Arts, Minnesota
Jerome Liebling: Matter of Life and Death- Steven Kasher Gallery, New York
A Walk Through Holyoke- Open Square Gallery, Holyoke, MA
Capturing the Human Spirit- Currier Museum of Art, Manchester, NH
Seeing Real Things, selected photographs- Smith College Museum of Art, Northampton, MA 
Everyday Monuments, photographs from the collection- Yale Art Gallery, New Haven, CT
The Grace of Being, selected photographs- Howard Greenberg Gallery, New York
Selected Photographs- Minnesota Center for Photography
American Writers, Photographs of Jerome Liebling, Concord Library
Selected Photographs, Hampshire College
Photographs from The Dickinsons of Amherst, Mount Holyoke College Art Museum
Locally Grown, Mead Art Museum, Amherst College, Amherst MA
Jerome Liebling; The New York Photographs, Sidney Mishkin Gallery, Baruch College
Metroscapes: The Minneapolis Gateway, Frederick R. Weisman Art Museum, Univ of Minn.
Jerome Liebling Photographs, Konica Plaza, Sapporo
The People, Yes, Minneapolis Institute of Arts, Minneapolis, MN
The People, Yes, The Photographer’s Gallery, London, England
Photographs, Howard Greenberg Gallery, NYC
Jerome Liebling Photographs: Hampshire College, Amherst, MA
Jerome Liebling Photographs: Photofind Gallery, NYC
Jerome Liebling Photographs: Blaffer Gallery of Art, Univ. of Houston
The State of Massachusetts: Smith College Museum of Art, Northampton, MA
Jerome Liebling Photographs: Photospace, Dept. of Art, Northern Illinois Univ. Dekalb, IL
Jerome Liebling Photographs: Portland School of Art, Portland, ME
Jerome Liebling: Recent Color Photographs, Hampshire College, Amherst, MA
Contemporary Color: Jerome Liebling, Fogg Art Museum, Harvard Univ., Cambridge, MA
Jerome Liebling, Photographs: Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.
30 Photographs: Film in the Cities, St. Paul, MN
50 Photographs: Viterbo College, LaCrosse, WI
40 Photographs: Univ. of Massachusetts, Amherst, MA
Jerome Liebling Photographs: Univ. of California Art Museum, San Diego, CA
Jerome Liebling Photographs: Friends of Photography. Carmel, CA
Vision Gallery, Boston MA
Union College, Schenectady, NY
Hampshire College, Amherst, MA
Museum of Modern Art, NYC
Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, MN
Limelight Gallery, NYC
Minneapolis Institute of Art
George Eastman House, Rochester, NY


Selected Group Exhibitions:
Slaves of Mimesis: Nine Years on 23rd Street- Steven Kasher Gallery, New York
Howard Greenberg Collection- Fondation Cartier-Bresson, Paris, France
London Street Photography- Museum of London / Museum of the City of New York
The Radical Camera: New York's Photo League, 1936 - 1951- Jewish Museum, New York City
Dark Side II- Fotomuseum Winterthur, Zurich, Switzerland
Dreaming of Tomorrow: Social Documentaries that Moved American Society- Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography, Tokyo, Japan
Changing Prospects: The View From Mount Holyoke- Mount Holyoke College Art Museum
This Is The Photo League- Columbus Museum of Art, Ohio
Exhibition from the Permanent Collections- Miami Art Museum, Miami FL
Photo League, New York 1936-1951-Mestre, Galleria Contemporaneo, Venice, Italy
Recent Acquisitions- Miami Art Museum, Miami, Florida
Photography in Boston: 1955-1985- DeCordova Museum and Sculpture Park, Lincoln, MA
An American Century of Photography: From Dry-Plate to Digital- Hallmark Photographic Collection,five stop US tour beginning at the Phillips Collection, Washington, DC
Three Photographers with Barbara Crane and Jerry Uelsman, Spurgeon Gallery, Central Washington University
Selections from the Permanent Collection: Photo League, Center For Creative Photography, Tucson, AZ
Photographer’s London, group show at the Museum of London, England
Common Lives, Exhibition at Stichting Fotografie Noorderlicht, JA Groningen, The Netherlands
Magicians of Light: Photographs form the collection of the National Gallery of Canada
Chasing Shadows, Photographs from the Collection, Fogg Art Museum, Harvard Univ., Cambridge, MA
William Benton Museum of Art, University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT
American Politicians, at the Museum of Modern Art, NYC
American Photographers 1890-1965 from the Museum of Modern Art, New York, Kunstibiliothek Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Germany
Flora Photographica, at the Serpentine Gallery, London
Commitment to Vision, University of Oregon Gallery, Eugene, OR
American Images 1945-80, at the Barbican Art Gallery, London
The Florida Document, Daytona Beach Community College, Daytona, FL
Image America, Hamburg, Germany
The Other Amerika, Hamburg, Germany
Photographs, Recent Acquisitions, Museum of Modern Art, NYC
American Photography Today- 1984, School of Art, University of Denver, Denver, CO
Photographers/Educators, Manchester Institute of Arts and Sciences, Manchester, NH
Massachusetts Photographers 1984, Cambridge Arts Council, Cambridge, MA
Light of Our Past 1947-1974, Minnesota Photographic Heritage, Film in The Cities, St. Paul, MN
Arboretum, Schwayder Art Gallery, Univ. of Denver, Denver, CO
Our Land, Our People, Minneapolis Institute of Art- First Bank, Minneapolis, MN
Place: New England Perambulations, Addison Gallery of American Art, Phillips Academy, Andover, MA
Western Massachusetts in Color, A Survey, Springfield Museum of Fine Arts, Springfield, MA
American Children, Museum of Modern Art, NYC
City Spectrum, Creative Camera Gallery, M.I.T., Cambridge, MA
Mirrors and Windows, Museum of Modern Art, NYC
Photographs from the Collection of Sam Wagstaff, Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, DC
14 New England Photographers, Boston Museum of Fine Arts
Photographic Crossroads: The Photo League, International Center of Photography, NYC
Exhibit One: Eight Massachusetts Photographers, Massachusetts Arts and Humanities Foundation,Boston, MA
Street Kids, 1964-1977, New York Historical Society, NYC
University of Massachusetts Class of 1928 Photography Collection, Univ. of Mass. Gallery
Photography Collection, Yale Art Gallery, Yale University Gallery, New Haven, CT


Selected Publications:
Klein, Mason, and Catherine Evans. The Radical Camera: New York's Photo League, 1936-1951. New Haven, CT: Yale UP, 2011
From the Shtetl to South Beach Photographs and essay in Pakn Tregar, Yiddish Book Center, Amherst MA, Spring 2006
Dreaming of Tomorrow: Social Documentaries that Moved American Society Catalog, Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography, Tokyo, Japan, 2005
Jerome LIebling’s Minnesota Photographs, essay by Judith Fryer Davidov in Exposure
Doezema, Marianne. Changing Prospects: The View from Mount Holyoke. South Hadley, MA: Mount Holyoke College Art Museum, 2002
O'Gorman, James F. Connecticut Valley Vernacular: The Vanishing Landscape and Architecture of the New England Tobacco Fields. Philadelphia: U of Pennsylvania, 2002
Feature article in Yankee Magazine, November 2001 issue
Photo League, New York, 1936-1951, catalogue from exhibit in Venice, Italy, 2001
This is the Photo League, Steve Daiter Gallery, Chicago Il, published 2001
Brighton Beach Photographs in Pakn Tregar, Yiddish Book Center, Amherst MA, Jan. 2001
The Photo Book, Phaidon Press Limited, 2000
Special Edition Portfolio of selected Jerome Liebling Photographs, DoubleTake Publishing, 2000