1931 – 2015
Home page: http://www.haroldfeinstein.com/
Harold Feinstein is best known for his mid-20th century street photography, particularly his six decades of photographing Coney Island. He was born in Coney Island Hospital b. April 17, 1931) to immigrant Russian and Austrian parents. He began his career in photography in 1946 at the age of 15 and when he was only 19, Edward Steichen, an early supporter, purchased his work for the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA). He joined the Photo League at 17, was an early exhibitor at Helen Gee’s Limelight Gallery and had his first show at the Whitney Museum of Modern Art in 1954. He worked closely with W. Eugene Smith for many years.
While his Coney Island work has been much celebrated, Feinstein’s breadth and exposure is far greater. His photographs from the Korean War, taken from the perspective of a draftee, offer an intimate look at the daily life of young conscripts from induction to basic training to the front lines. In addition, he has a large collection of classic street photography, nudes, portraits and still life. His first black and white monograph, Harold Feinstein: A Retrospective was published in 2012 by Nazraeli Press. He also has a large body of color work, both 35mm and digital and seven books of large format color botanical and still life subjects. His foray into digital earned him the Smithsonian Computerworld Award in 2000.
Feinstein is also renowned as a teacher. In his early 20’s he began teaching in New York City, and developed a large following. In addition to his private workshops held in his studio, he has taught at the University of Pennsylvania’s Annenberg School of Communications, Philadelphia Museum School, School of Visual Arts in NYC, the University of Massachusetts, Maryland Institute of Art, Windham College, and College of the Holy Cross. Feinstein himself was fundamentally self-taught and never graduated from high school, though he did enjoy a class with Sid Grossman in the late 50’s. His teaching style urged experimentation and emphasized seeing over technique. Even though as a teacher he under-emphasized technique, the editors of Modern Photography and later, Popular Photography utilized his work frequently to showcase technique and asked him to contribute his own articles explaining darkroom technique, composition and printmaking.
Feinstein’s photographs have been exhibited in and are represented in the permanent collections of major museums around the globe including the Museum of Modern Art, International Center of Photography, George Eastman House, Museum of Photographic Arts, Center for Creative Photography, Musée d’Art Moderne, the
Jewish Museum, the Museum for the City of New York and many others.