In the Galleries: September 2021

This month in Philadelphia: The inaugural 20/20 Photo Festival, “New Sicilian Topographics” at Art on the Avenue Gallery, “Michael Froio: From the Main Line” at Gravy Studio, and “A Quiet Light” at Wiota Street Garden.

Book Review: Fotoclubismo by Sarah Hermanson Meister

A beautifully printed, densely informative catalog that accompanies the current MoMA exhibit (on view through September), Fotoclubismo highlights the visually innovative photography of a largely unknown mid-20th Century amateur photography club in Brazil.

Binge-Worthy #4: In The Street (Helen Levitt, 1948)

In the Street is a sensitively observed slice-of-life portrait of Spanish Harlem shot in 1948 and released in the early 1950s. Acclaimed street photographer Helen Levitt collaborated on the film with her sister-in-law, painter Janice Loeb, and author James Agee, who wrote the text for Now Let Us Praise Famous Men.

Book Review: Diana & Nikon by Janet Malcolm

In her collected writings on photography, New Yorker staff writer Janet Malcolm accomplishes what many critics set out to do but few achieve, illuminating much that is true about the medium in a unique, eloquent voice that is piercingly intelligent and bluntly honest.

Binge-Worthy #3: Gare de Lyon (William Klein, 1963)

Gare de Lyon, one of WIlliam Klein’s earliest filmmaking efforts, is much more modest in ambition and scale than his later films. It’s a quick sketch made by a brilliant autodidact who is just beginning to test the limits of the medium—and a relatively simple concept executed extremely well.

Book Review: Yamabito, the Mountain People by Osamu Sato

In the 1970s, an unassuming Tokyo salaryman used his one day off each week to journey into the mountains of Gunma Prefecture, an 8×10” view camera in tow. Leaving the city behind, he trekked—first by train, then by bus, and finally on foot—until he arrived at the remote villages there.

Book Review: Grim Street by Mark Cohen

Photographer Mark Cohen stalked the same small radius of Wilkes-Barre, where he lived and worked, for decades, taking groundbreaking and revealing photos of small-town life that revel in the details. A well-edited selection of his black-and-white work comprises Grim Street.

Binge-Worthy #2: Candy Mountain (Robert Frank, 1987)

Candy Mountain, a low-budget independent feature from the mid-1980s that Robert Frank co-directed, easily ranks among his most significant filmmaking achievements. It’s a deeply personal work etched with social commentary that drives home just how much, in the wake of The Americans, Frank strove to distance himself from that career-defining body of work. It’s also his most mainstream project, and one that he ultimately deemed a failure.

Book Review: Palante: Young Lords Party by Michael Abramson with the Young Lords Party

Inspired by the Black Panthers, the Young Lords Party was an organization of Puerto Rican activists and community organizers, many of whom were first-generation college students at the time. The movement’s heyday lasted a little under two years, from 1969 to 1971. During that time, its members were on the frontlines of the struggle for social, racial, and economic justice.