Found: A Harold Feinstein Exhibition

In the UK’s first ever exhibition of master photographer Harold Feinstein, The store x and Carrie Scott present Found: A Harold Feinstein Exhibition


the store x presents 
Found: A Harold Feinstein Exhibition

May 14th -19th 2019

In the 2015 New York Times obituary celebrating his life, Harold Feinstein was declared “one of the most accomplished recorders of the American experience”, and yet much of his photography is principally unknown. That is now beginning to change. A renaissance of his remarkable work is currently underway as evidenced by the feature length documentary Last Stop Coney Island: The Life and Photography of Harold Feinstein which had its world premiere at DOCNYC to a sold out crowd. The film will premier in London on May 15th at Dochouse at Curzon Bloomsbury, timed to coordinate with the first ever UK exhibition of his work, Found: A Harold Feinstein Exhibition, curated by art historian Carrie Scott at The Store X, which opens on May 14th. 

Born in Coney Island in 1931, Feinstein left school to begin photographing at the age of 15, and became one of the most prominent figures in the vanguard of the New York City street photography scene, joining the famed Photo League when he was 17. At the age of 19, Feinstein’s work was acquired by Edward Steichen for the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA). He was included in shows at the Whitney Museum of American Art in 1954 and at the Museum of Modern Art in 1957. Feinstein also had a solo show at the legendary Helen Gee’s Limelight Gallery in 1957. Despite this early success, however, Feinstein’s extensive collection of classic street photography, nudes, portraits and still life has seldom been exhibited. Thanks in part to the black and white monograph, Harold Feinstein:A Retrospective (Nazraeli, 2012), Feinstein is today starting to receive the critical and public attention he so deserves.The Kickstarter campaign to fund the book in fact put Feinstein’s work on the map for Director of Last Stop Coney Island, Andy Dunn, who backed the campaign and upon receiving the book years later decided a film had to be made.


Found: A Harold Feinstein Exhibition is the first exhibition to bring together vintage and contemporary silver gelatin prints, alongside exclusive film footage from Last Stop Coney Island and immersive audio that includes Feinstein’s voice. Through distinct bodies of work – Coney Island, Street Photography, Nudes and Still Life – we see the extraordinary eye of a master photographer with an uncompromising ability to capture beauty in every composition. While influenced by the likes of W. Eugene Smith and Henri Cartier-Bresson, Feinstein was not a photographer who would stand back and observe, unnoticed by his subjects, in fact, in nearly every image, Feinstein’s proximity to his subject is palpably intimate. It is this physical closeness, an extension of Feinstein’s empathic connection to his subjects that sets his work apart from other Street Photographers of the same period. Whether standing over a group of teenagers lying on a Coney Island beach, photographing a man smoking in a diner or a woman bathing, intimacy is the urgency in these images and compassion sits at the core of each composition. One can’t help but imagine where Feinstein was standing when he took the shot. Where his contemporaries – photographers like Diane Arbus, Walker Evans and Garry Winogrand – took photographs that recorded the plight of the human condition mostly without their subjects knowing, Feinstein celebrated humanity with his subjects. From the glittering lights of Times Square, to the streets of Harlem; from smoke-filled coffee shops to subways; from city stoops to crowded beaches: Feinstein’s desire to connect with the world around him and share the beauty he saw is evident in every composition. People stare into Feinstein’s lens, eyes sparkling. Friends embrace, as if Feinstein was part of their love and admiration for one another. No one holds back. Life is vivid. And, as a result, a deep, empathetic and beautiful humanity runs through each and every image. As Feinstein himself put it, “Everywhere people live out their own personal story, yet are tied together through the universal emotions of love, loss, curiosity, humor and compassion… My street photography is a small sampling of my photographic journey bearing witness to the beauty and mystery of this human life.”

Photography by Jennifer Moyes