Born in Coney Island in 1931, master photographer Harold Feinstein began photographing in 1946 at the age of 15, heading immediately to the Coney Island boardwalk with a Rolleiflex camera he borrowed from a neighbor. Throughout his illustrious six-decade career, Coney Island would remain his favorite location to photograph. His love affair with the world famous resort has resulted in a collection unsurpassed by any other photographer. These photographs, which were recently published for the first time in Harold Feinstein: A Retrospective (Nazraeli Press), will be shown in an exhibition entitled
Harold Feinstein: A Coney Island Summer opening at the Panopticon Gallery
in Boston on July 12, 2013.
From lovers on the boardwalk, to teenagers on the beach, to elderly bathers basking in the sun, to children diving into the surf, and whirling and tilting on amusement park rides, Feinstein's work reflects his love of ordinary people. In speaking about his affection for the famous boardwalk and diverse cross section of Americans that populated it, Feinstein once said, "I often feel like I fell out of my mother's womb onto the beach in Coney Island with a Nathan's hot dog in my hand with the sounds of kids screaming on the Cyclone."
In 1950 Edward Steichen, an early supporter of Feinstein, purchased his work for the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) making him the youngest artist to be so honored. Feinstein joined the Photo League at 17 and became a prominent figure in the vanguard of the early New York City street photography scene, exhibiting at Helen Gee's Limelight Gallery, teaching legendary workshops, and designing Blue Note Record covers while living in the now-famous "Jazz Loft," that he eventually turned over to his long-time collaborator and colleague W. Eugene Smith. Feinstein scored great successes in his early career with his first exhibition at the Whitney Museum of American Art in 1954, and his first exhibition at MoMA in 1957.
Feinstein re-entered the spotlight in 2000 with his first book, One Hundred Flowers, published by Little Brown and now in its third printing. The book inspired UK newspaper, The Independent, to write: "In the realm of photography, Feinstein is what Beckham is to football or J.K. Rowling is to books." As one of the world's first artists to utilize a scanner as a camera, Feinstein's large format color imagery spawned seven books and some licensing contracts, earning him the Smithsonian Computerworld Award for Celebration of Life through Digital Imaging.