The Radical Camera (Hardcover)

New York's Photo League, 1936-1951

By Mason Klein, Catherine Evans

Yale University Press, 9780300146875, 248pp.

Publication Date: December 27, 2011

List Price: 50.00*
* Individual store prices may vary.


An in-depth look at the influential Photo League, whose blend of aesthetics and social activism advanced modern photography

Artists in the Photo League, active from 1936 to 1951, were known for capturing sharply revealing, compelling moments from everyday life. Their focus centered on New York City and its vibrant streets—a newsboy at work, a brass band on a bustling corner, a crowded beach at Coney Island. Though beautiful, the images harbor strong social commentary on issues of class, child labor, and opportunity. The Radical Camera explores the fascinating blend of aesthetics and social activism at the heart of the Photo League, tracing the group's left-leaning roots and idealism to the worker-photography movement in Europe. Influenced by mentors Lewis Hine, Berenice Abbott, and Paul Strand, artists in the Photo League worked within a unique complex comprising a school, a darkroom, a gallery, and a salon, in which photography was discussed as both a means for social change and an art form. The influence of the Photo League artists on modern photography was enormous, ushering in the New York School. 

Presenting 150 works of the members of the Photo League alongside complementary essays that offer new interpretations of the League's work, ideas, and pedagogy, this beautifully illustrated book features artists including Margaret Bourke-White, Sid Grossman, Morris Engel, Lisette Model, Ruth Orkin, Walter Rosenblum, Aaron Siskind, W. Eugene Smith, and Weegee, among many others.

About the Author

Mason Klein is curator at The Jewish Museum, New York. He is the author of Modigliani: Beyond the Myth and Alias Man Ray. Catherine Evans is the William and Sarah Ross Soter Curator of Photography at the Columbus Museum of Art.

Praise For The Radical Camera: New York's Photo League, 1936-1951

Winner of the 2011 New England Book Festival in the Photography/Art category. This award is given by the JM Northern Media family of festivals, and sponsored by the Larimar St. Croix Writers Colony, eDivvy, Shophanista and Westside Websites

— Winner Photography/Art

"This book will be of great interest to readers interested in the history of photography. An essential title for academic and public libraries supporting photography collections."—Valerie Nye, Library Journal

— Valerie Nye

"[The catalogue] should be considered indispensable to a serious photography book library."—Studio International

— Studio International

Bronze Medal for the 2012 ForeWord Book of the Year Award in the Photography category

— Book of the Year Bronze Winner

 "The Radical Camera. . . catalogue surveys and illuminates the many personalities and their politics that formulated the Photo League's tenants and ensuing oeuvre throughout  the tumults of their times"—Bookslut

— Bookslut

Won Honorable Mention for the 2012 Exhibition Catalogue Award given by the Dedalus Foundation

— Exhibition Catalogue Award Honorable Mention

Runner-up for the 2011-2012 Los Angeles Book Festival in the Photography/Art category, sponsored by JM Northern Media LLC

— Photography/Art Award Runner-up

Selected as a Choice Outstanding Academic Title 2012 for Photography within the Humanities category.

— Outstanding Academic Title