Jerome Liebling

September 30, 2011–January 29, 2012

Renowned American photographer Jerome Liebling (1924-2011) made the Pioneer Valley his home for almost 40 years. During his long and distinguished career, he produced pristinely formal and socially-conscious images that speak forcefully about both change and continuity in America during the late twentieth century.

Liebling was influential as a photographer, filmmaker, and teacher. Following his discharge from the army in 1946, he studied design at Brooklyn College. His early love of still photography developed under the tutelage of Walter Rosenblum, former president of the famed New York social-documentary group, the Photo League. His eye for composition was influenced by the Bauhaus-inspired faculty of Brooklyn College’s design department. Liebling’s photographs, however, have always been distinctly his own.

Liebling’s many devoted students say that he led by example, and his photographs do, too.  He created many indelible images with his camera: an unemployed man sitting slumped in a restaurant booth, the tender, mirrored gestures of a mother’s and baby’s hands, a desolate city corner bathed in warm light, and an old woman surrounded by the signs of commercial culture. All of these form part of Leibling’s visual poem about life in America during the 20th century.

This installation is being mounted in memory of Jerome Liebling and is supported by the Suzannah J. Fabing Programs Fund for the Smith College Museum of Art.

The Mead Art Museum at Amherst College has nine Liebling photographs from its permanent collection on view until October 30, 2011. The Liebling Center at Hampshire College will host an exhibition of Liebling’s work from October 14 through October 30.

Image Caption: Jerome Liebling. American, 1924-2011. Woman, Shopping Cart, Market Window, Brighton Beach Brooklyn N.Y.1985. C‑print. Purchased with a grant from the Artists’ Resource Trust.