Born in Harlem and raised in Bensonhurst, Jerome Liebling enlisted to fight in World War II, then returned to study art thanks to the G.I. Bill. In the late 40s, he joined the Photo League, a group who aimed, through their work, to shed light on poverty and other issues of social justice. Liebling, who passed away in 2011, then spent decades establishing an art and film program at the University of Minnesota, only to return to his hometown in the 70s, when the Bronx was already burning and Brighton Beach was poised for a major demographic shift. "Renowned for capturing the city's poetic and fleeting moments with a social-minded sensibility," Liebling's body of work is vast, spanning boroughs, decades, and photographic stylesabove all, "trying to find the meaning behind everyday New Yorkers." Inspirational to documentary-makers everywhere, he was "so authentic, in a way that a lot of us had never experienced," said Ken Burns. "You wanted to be like him. You wanted to tell the truth."
Fifty of his photos are on display in "Jerome Liebling: Brooklyn and Other Boroughs, April 24th – June 6th 2015" at the Steven Kasher Gallery until June 6. Go forth.
· Jerome Liebling: Brooklyn and Other Boroughs, 1946-1996 [Steven Kasher Gallery]
· Jerome Liebling [official]
· The Still-Life Mentor to a Filmmaking Generation [NYT]