Jerome Liebling: A Documentary Photographer Whose Camera Captured the Human Spirit

Jerome Liebling, Butterfly Boy, New York City, 1949

Jerome Liebling, Boy and Car, New York City, 1949

Jerome Liebling, Grain Worker, Minneapolis, Minn., 1950

Jerome Liebling, Woman, Red Lake, Minnesota, 1953

Jerome Liebling, Blind Home, St Paul, Minnesota, 1963

Jerome Liebling, Outside Claridge’s Hotel, Mayfair, London, UK, 1967

Jerome Liebling: A Documentary Photographer Whose Camera Captured the Human Spirit

Jerome Liebling, a pioneering socially conscious documentary photographer and teacher for more than half a century, died on July 27th in Northampton, Mass., at the age of 87. Mr. Leibling’s subtly powerful pictures influenced a generation of socially minded photographers and documentary filmmakers.

Along with a wave of pioneering photographers who included Walker Evans, Paul Strand, Berenice Abbott, Helen Levitt and Gordon Parks, Jerome Liebling helped define the look of 20th century documentary photography. Leibling took to the streets of New York in the 1940s to make art by turning his camera onto corners of urban life that had too often been ignored by many photographers before him. He captured the lives of ordinary people on the streets of New York, including in his childhood neighborhood of Brighton Beach, as well as around the world.

Most of Mr. Liebling’s life was spent teaching. He started a photography and film department at the University of Minnesota in 1949, and taught at Hampshire College from 1970 to 1990. The school’s photography building is named in his honor. A number of of Mr. Liebling’s students became professional photographers and filmmakers, receiving Academy Awards, Emmys and Peabody awards for their work.

Liebling received numerous awards and grants, including two Guggenheim Fellowships, a National Endowment for the Arts Photographic Survey Grant, and a fellowship from the Massachusetts Council on the Arts. His photographs are in the permanent collections of many museums, including the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, the Fogg Museum in Cambridge, Massachusetts, the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., and the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa.

Viewers can read more about the life and work of Jerome Leibling in The New York Times here.

Looking at Leibling

Political Landscape: Liebling’s Minnesota Capitol Photographs (1956-1969)

Photo-Gallery: Jerome Liebling’s Camera Captured the Human Spirit

(Please Click Image to View Photo-Gallery)

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