America and Lewis Hine: Photographs, 1904-1940by Naomi Rosenblum, Lewis W. Hine
America & Lewis Hine. Foreword by Walter Rosenblum; Biographical Notes by Naomi Rosenblum; Essay by Alan Trachtenberg. Lewis Hine followed the immigrants into their new neighborhood, to the swarming streets of the Lower East Side, to slums and tenements, sweatshops and rundown factories. This book is an invaluable resource both as a record of the times in which he lived and as a definitive exploration of a great photographer's work. 86 blackandwhite duotone photographs and 20 illustrations, 11 3/8 X 9 9/16, 142 pages.
"Hine is a major American artist, worthy of comparison in his role as portraitist of native life with Edward Hopper, Theodore Dreiser, William Carlos Williams."
Irving Howe, The New Republic
- Aperture Foundation
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Review Summary: Lewis Hine was a pioneer in documenting the working conditions of children. His poignant images of coal mines, sweatshops, and factories shocked America into passing its first legislation to regulate and reduce child labor. Generations of Americans have benefited as a result. Review: The foreword by Walter Rosenblum describes Lewis Hine as being 'a born teacher.' Mr. Rosenblum recounts Mr. Hine's generosity in writing a letter or recommendation for him saying that Mr. Rosenblum was 'a new and better Hine.' This example captures his compassion and generosity towards others. He never saw a person he didn't respect and have compassion for. Each image in this fine book contains that 'compassionate vision.' His subjects included immigrants at Ellis Island and in their first tenement homes, working conditions in sweatshops and factories, the everyday life of the working poor, and the building of the Empire State Building (with views from the 100th floor girders). The reader will get a 'fresh insight through his vision' because Mr. Hine takes you places you never imagined existed. The scenes speak for themselves and cause you to have a visceral reaction. My sense of vertigo at thinking about swaying on a girder was palpable as I looked over the Empire State Building construction photographs. In viewing the sweatshops, I could feel heat building up in my body. In the images of breaker boys, I could feel the dusty despair of the coal mines in my bones and lungs. From a technical point of view, the compositions are very fine and draw the eye into the scene. You get a strong sense of the moment, even though the scenes are 70-90 years old. The images strike hard at you with their messages . . . without using captions. They are as gripping as anything you have seen about work or slum life on the front pages of a newspaper. Sadly, Mr. Hine's career hit a major snag in the Depression. Stieglitz and he were on different paths, and those who were showing interest in art photography were uninterested in social realism. He was impoverished, had his house foreclosed on, and lived on welfare. His wife died on Christmas 1938. He died in November 1940 'impoverished, dispirited, worn out.' He was 'malnourished to the point of starvation.' One cannot help but think that he moved closer to living the life of a saint than many of us will ever achieve. My favorite images in the book include: New York City Sweatshop, 1908; Climbing into America, 1908; Young girls knitting stockings in Southern hosiery mill, 1920; Cigar makers, Tampa, 1909; Breaker boys in coal chute, South Pittston, Pennsylvania, January 1911; Playground in tenement alley, Boston, 1901; Cannery workers preparing beans, c. 1910; and Photographs of building the Empire State Building, New York City, 1930/32. I suggest that you follow Mr. Hine's fine example and think about how you can visualize important messages that others can best appreciate as images. What images would you capture? How would you share them? Who would benefit? Be prepared to help others see the injustices that you do! Donald Mitchell, co-author of The Irresistible Growth Enterprise and The 2,000 Percent Solution