Sid Grossman (1913–55) and his work were largely forgotten after his untimely death in 1955. Labeled as a communist by the FBI after the war, his hard-earned reputation as a free-thinking photographer quickly fell into oblivion for the rest of the century and beyond. Grossman was one of the founders of the famous New York Photo League and a notoriously demanding and capricious teacher who always challenged his students. This monograph, the first comprehensive survey of Grossman’s life and work, contains more than 150 photographs that demonstrate Grossman’s enduring talent. The images range from his early social documentary of the late 1930s to the more personal, dynamic street photography of the late 1940s, as well as later experiments with abstraction in both black and white and color. It features an essay by renowned historian Keith F. Davis, and concludes with excerpted transcripts from recordings of a course Grossman taught in 1950.
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.