In 1959, in a small storefront on East 10th Street in New York City, a photographer named Larry Siegel opened a gallery dedicated exclusively to photography. The Image Gallery, open until 1962, showed the work of leading photographers including Rudy Burckhardt, Sid Grossman, Saul Leiter, Duane Michals, and Garry Winogrand, becoming one of the models for exhibiting photography as an art form. Howard Greenberg Gallery will present The Image Gallery Redux: 1959-1962 from January 9 – February 15, 2014. The exhibition will feature the work of 21 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: Helen Gee’s Limelight Gallery (with its adjoining coffeehouse) began in 1954. Before then, only two galleries had attempted to exhibit photographs prior to the birth of the photography market in the 1970s: Alfred Stieglitz's 291 gallery, beginning in 1908, and Julien Levy Gallery, beginning in 1931. Image Gallery's location at 100 East 10th Street had a storied past. It was said that Mathew Brady, the 19th-century photographer who had a studio nearby on 10th Street and Broadway, had used the space.
The Image Gallery gave Duane Michals his first gallery show, and Garry Winogrand his first solo show in New York City. The gallery presented a Eugène Atget exhibition before The Museum of Modern Art did. Works by Walker Evans, Robert Frank, and Helen Levitt were donated to the gallery for a holiday exhibition. A meeting place for photographers, the Image Gallery attracted a wide range of important artists. Eugene Smith stopped by early for 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 Redux: 1959-1962 will explore the work of photographers of the period, 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, Steve Schapiro, Larry Siegel, Ann Treer, Kenneth Van Sickle, David Vestal, Garry Winogrand, and Jasper Wood.