The Life and Work of Sid Grossman

Author(s): Keith F. Davis


Sid Grossman and his photographs were largely forgotten after his untimely death in 1955 at the age of forty-two. One of the founders of the left-leaning Photo League (1936-51), Grossman was labeled a Communist and blacklisted in 1949. A demanding and capricious teacher who challenged his students to think critically about all aspects of their photography, Grossman's own approach to imagemaking and his remarkable body of work were constantly evolving. This monograph, the first comprehensive survey of Sid Grossman's life and work, contains more than 150 photographs that demonstrate Grossman's enduring talent and depth. The images range from his early social documentary work of the late 1930s to the more personal and dynamic street photography of the late 1940s, as well as late experiments with abstraction in both black and white and color. It features a biographical and critical essay by the renowned curator and photo historian, Keith F. Davis, which traces Grossman's evolution as a photographer and examines his considerable influence as a teacher.
The book concludes with an extensive selection of excerpts from a transcript of tape recordings of a course that Grossman taught in the spring of 1950 in which he expounds his views on photography, art, and creativity.


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Keith F. Davis has worked as a photography curator and historian for nearly forty years. After overseeing the Hallmark Photographic Collection, beginning in 1979, he became the founding curator of photography in 2006--and is now senior curator--at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, Missouri. He is the author of many books, including The Origins of American Photography: From Daguerreotype to Dry-Plate, 1839-1885 (2007); The Photographs of Homer Page: The Guggenheim Year, New York, 1949-50 (2009); Timothy H. O'Sullivan: The King Survey Photographs (2011); The Photographs of Ray K. Metzker (2012); Emmet Gowin (2013); and Multitude, Solitude: The Photographs of Dave Heath (2015). He received a National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship (1986-87) for his work on the Civil War-era photographer George N. Barnard, and was included in James Stourton's definitive study, Great Collectors of Our Time: Art Collecting Since 1945 (2007). He has curated more than 100 exhibitions and has lectured widely on various aspects of 19th and 20th century photography.

General Fields

  • : 9783958291256
  • : Steidl Publishers
  • : Steidl Verlag
  • : September 2016
  • : April 2017
  • : books

Special Fields

  • : Keith F. Davis
  • : Hardback
  • : 252