Subway, New York, 1946


A thematic survey: 1946-2016

Born in Brooklyn in 1922 to Austrian immigrant parents, Stettner began working as a photographer in the 1930s and served in the U.S. Army in World War II before moving to Paris in 1947. There, he studied at the Institut des Hautes Études Cinématographiques, became friends with the influential photographer Brassaï, and developed a unique point of view that melded the boldness of American street photography with the softer humanism more characteristic of his Paris contemporaries. For the rest of his life, he traveled between New York and Paris — his “two loves,” as he called them — constantly finding new inspiration in that geographical duality. Stettner was responsible for bringing to New York’s MoMA the 1951 exhibition “Five French Photographers,” featuring a whole generation of French humanist photographers: Brassaï, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Robert Doisneau, Izis, and Willy Ronis. “Brassaï took me under his wing,” Stettner told a French journalist. “He was my teacher. I went to see him once a week to bring him my work, and in return he showed me his. Then we went out strolling in the streets of Paris.” Beyond bringing French photography to the American public, Stettner’s own work was distinctive for blending the social engagement of American street photography with the poetic sensibility of the French humanist tradition. Like Saul Leiter, Stettner frequently photographed people through and around obstacles. In the case of his series of photos inside Penn Station, he shoots through the train windows, darkened with mist or soot. They act as frames within the frame as we peer into the train compartments where men and women sleep, play cards, chat, or read the papers in what feels like a secluded underwater world.

In his series of photos in the subway—made in 1946, several years after Walker Evans’s subway series (though Stettner did not know Evans’s work at the time)—Stettner used a square format and, contrary to Evans, did not hide his camera. He pretended to be fiddling with his camera, then photographed his subjects, some of whom were aware, others not, between stations, using long exposures. The subway provided him with endless sitters, offering Stettner the possibility of entering for a moment the lives of perfect strangers.


> Contents120 B&W vintage and modern print
> ConditionFramed
> TransportFrom Madrid
> Rental conditionsThe borrower will be in charge of:
-The transport from and to Paris
-The insurance, nail to nail
-Travel and journey of the responsible of the exhibition (from Madrid) for the installation and opening
> AvailibilityFrom February 2021




< back to exhibitions