US

'It's like a long-gone America'

By Kyle Almond, CNN

Published 9:25 PM ET, Wed April 5, 2017
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Teenagers recline on a Coney Island beach in 1949. The photo was taken by Harold Feinstein, a New York City native who was "a true master of photography," according to gallery owner Thierry Bigaignon. Bigaignon's gallery in Paris is showcasing Feinstein's early work, much of which focuses on New York City in the 1940s and '50s. "He had a way of looking at the world, and he had a way of photographing the world, with a lot of tenderness and a lot of optimism," Bigaignon said. Courtesy Harold Feinstein Photography Trust
A couple kisses goodbye as a soldier prepares for deployment in 1952. At the time, the United States was involved in the Korean War. Courtesy Harold Feinstein Photography Trust
Passengers look out of a sightseeing bus in New York in 1956. Bigaignon said Feinstein's street photography is characterized by a high sense of composition: "He's the kind of photographer who took great care at composing his images in a very fine way, even though he was working very quickly. ... He was very much focused on composition, and that's probably one of the skills he had and he mastered better than the others." Courtesy Harold Feinstein Photography Trust
A man swigs Krueger beer at Coney Island in 1952. Bigaignon said Feinstein's work is also known for its humanism. "There's hardly a picture without a human being in it," he said. Courtesy Harold Feinstein Photography Trust
Boys dive into the ocean in this Coney Island montage, which was created in the darkroom from three negatives. Courtesy Harold Feinstein Photography Trust
A girl wears a fur coat in New York in 1950. Courtesy Harold Feinstein Photography Trust
A man and woman share a bench outside the New York Public Library in 1949. "When you see (Feinstein's) pictures, you think: 'Wow, what a beautiful world. What a beautiful America,' " Bigaignon said. "It's like a long-gone America." Courtesy Harold Feinstein Photography Trust
A boy uses chalk to write numbers on a New York street in 1955. After Feinstein's death in 2015, The New York Times called the photographer "one of the most accomplished recorders of the American experience." Courtesy Harold Feinstein Photography Trust
A man holds up an umbrella and a hat while sitting on a Coney Island bench in 1948. Courtesy Harold Feinstein Photography Trust
US soldiers pass the time aboard a crowded troopship in 1952. "Contagious Optimism" is the name of the Feinstein exhibit at Bigaignon's gallery. It is just the first part of a Feinstein retrospective that will continue over the next few years, he said. Courtesy Harold Feinstein Photography Trust
Pigeons sit on the edge of a roof in Brooklyn in 1956. This image is a montage made from nine negatives. Courtesy Harold Feinstein Photography Trust
People are seen from an elevated train platform in New York in 1950. Bigaignon met Feinstein a few years ago. When he started his own gallery, he worked with Feinstein's widow, Judith, to get an exhibition started. "Every photograph I had in my hand was like a masterpiece to me," he said. Courtesy Harold Feinstein Photography Trust
Children eat outside a Coney Island church in 1950. Courtesy Harold Feinstein Photography Trust
Boys enjoy an amusement ride on Coney Island's boardwalk in 1950. The "Contagious Optimism" exhibition runs through the end of April at the Thierry Bigaignon Gallery in Paris. Bigaignon will showcase Feinstein's later work in 2018 and 2019, he said. Courtesy Harold Feinstein Photography Trust