Jerome Liebling
Woman with Scarf, Brighton Beach, Brooklyn, New York, 1985
Chromogenic print, printed ca. 1995
30 x 24 inches
 

Jerome Liebling
Blonde Woman at Store, Brighton Beach, Brooklyn, NY, 1985
Chromogenic print, printed ca. 1985
16 x 20 inches

Jerome Liebling
Woman with Fur Coat, Brighton Beach, Brooklyn, NY, 1982
Chromogenic print, printed ca. 1982
16 x 20 inches

Jerome Liebling
Young Russian Immigrant, Brighton Beach, Brooklyn, NY, 1996
Chromogenic print, printed ca. 1996
16 x 20 inches

Jerome Liebling
Women Buying Peaches, Brighton Beach, Brooklyn, 1995
Chromogenic print, printed ca. 1995
24 x 30 inches

Jerome Liebling
Lunch Counter, Brighton Beach, Brooklyn, NY, 1981
Chromogenic print
8 x 10 inches

Jerome Liebling
Rooftops, New York City, 1979
Chromogenic print, printed ca. 1979
16 x 20 inches

Woman and Shopping Cart, Brighton Beach, Brooklyn, New York, 1985
Chromogenic print, printed ca. 1995
24 x 30 inches

Jerome Liebling
Brighton Beach, Brooklyn, New York, 1976
Vintage gelatin silver, printed ca. 1976
11 x 14 inches

Jerome Liebling
Beauty Shop, Brooklyn, New York, 1947
Gelatin silver, printed ca. 1970
11 x 14 inches

Jerome Liebling
Women Watching Parade, New York City, 1948
Gelatin silver, printed ca. 1970
14 x 11 inches

Jerome Liebling
Mother and Bride, Ruth Schwartz Wedding, New York City, 1947
Vintage gelatin silver, printed 1947
10 x 8 inches

Jerome Liebling
May Day, Union Square Park, New York City, 1948
Vintage gelatin silver, printed 1948
6 3/4 x 8 inches
 

Jerome Liebling
Vegetable Woman, Lower East Side, New York City, 1947
Vintage gelatin silver printed ca. 1947
7 1/4 x 7 1/4 inches

Jerome Liebling
Avenue D, New York City, 1977
Vintage gelatin silver, printed ca. 1977
11 x 14 inches

Jerome Liebling
Butterfly Boy, New York City, 1949
Archival pigment, printed 2007-2011
30 x 30 inches

PRESS RELEASE

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Jerome Liebling: Brooklyn and Other Boroughs, 1946 – 1996
Exhibition: April 24th – June 6th, 2015
Opening Reception: Friday, April 24th, 6 – 8 PM 

 

Steven Kasher Gallery is proud to announce Jerome Liebling: Brooklyn and Other Boroughs, 1946 – 1996. This is the second exhibition of Liebling’s work at Steven Kasher Gallery. The show features 50 black and white and color photographs taken in Brooklyn, Manhattan, and the Bronx over a five decade span. The exhibition highlights Liebling’s roots in, love for, and inspired representations of his home city.

Jerome Liebling (1924-2011) was born in Harlem and grew up poor in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn. In 1942, Liebling quit his first semester at Brooklyn College to enlist in World War II, serving in the notoriously deadly glider infantry. The carnage he witnessed fueled his creative impulse to “figure out where the pain was..." Liebling returned to Brooklyn College in 1946 to study art under the G.I. Bill. Ad Reinhardt's Bauhaus-influenced design classes honed his formal sensibility; documentary photographer Walter Rosenblum opened his eyes to the power of the photographic image.

 

In 1947, Liebling joined the Photo League, a socially minded collective of photographers who fanned across New York to document hidden corners of the city. For Liebling, children surviving the rough-and-tumble city streets became a symbol of fortitude. "Their faces could inform all that they felt, from grace, to reflective questioning, to supreme prescience," he said. "Sometimes there was a hint of defeat, but more often there was improvisation and brilliance." One Easter morning in Harlem, Liebling encountered a young child dressed in his Sunday best: broken shoe-laces, tattered trousers, a threadbare tweed coat and cap.  Hands buried in his pockets, the boy spread his coat open wide, and the click of Liebling's shutter transformed him into Butterfly Boy. This image of a winged superhero who could soar away from his impoverished world has become a beloved icon, appearing on public posters and billboards in New York, Paris, Amsterdam, Japan and elsewhere.

 

In 1949 Liebling accepted a position teaching photography and filmmaking at the University of Minnesota. Twenty years later, he returned to New York to discover that the city of his childhood had vanished. ''I came back, and it was a disaster," he said. Liebling's 1970s photographs of the crumbling South Bronx depict a bleak realization: the Butterfly Boy may not have escaped to a better place after all. The young man in the picture Charlotte Street is trapped amidst ruins, in devastation as harrowing as Liebling's wartime experiences. Despite their imagery of senseless destruction, his photographs reveal the ever renewing spirit of humanity pushing up through the cracks.

 

In the late 1970s, Liebling rediscovered the long-lost Brooklyn of his childhood in the oceanside neighborhood known as "Little Odessa" in Brighton Beach. He spent three decades photographing there in brilliant chromogenic color as the old wave of Jewish denizens gave way to the new wave of Russian immigrants.

 

Liebling’s daughter, filmmaker Rachel Liebling, says “There was nothing as exciting as wandering the streets of Brooklyn with my father.  He found mystery and intrigue around every corner. The people on the streets – with their indefatigable energy and their human foibles – became larger-than-life through his lens. Human struggle took on mythical proportions; the perseverance and ingenuity of everyday people was heroic in his eyes.”

 

Jerome Liebling: Brooklyn and Other Boroughs, 1946 – 1996 will be on view April 24th – June 6th, 2015. Steven Kasher Gallery is located at 515 W. 26th St., New York, NY 10001. Gallery hours are Tuesday through Saturday, 10 AM to 6 PM. For more information about the exhibition and all other general inquiries, please contact Cassandra Johnson, 212 966 3978, cassandra@stevenkasher.com