Los Angeles, CA. Louis Stern Fine Arts is pleased to present “Mark Feldstein: Circa 1970,” an online exclusive exhibition featuring photographs by the late New York photographer Mark Feldstein (1937 – 2001). A well-respected artist who showed extensively in his lifetime, Feldstein was also an educator who helped establish the photography department at Hunter College in the 1970s. In the 1980s, along with Hunter colleague Roy de Carava, he was instrumental in making photography part of the school’s MFA program.
The exhibition’s 25 vintage prints, printed by Feldstein himself, capture beautifully composed shots of the buildings and streets of New York in the 1970s. Feldstein went everywhere with his camera bag, always on the lookout for the right subject, the right composition, the right lighting. His home and studio were in a loft on Bond Street, and he would take regular walks, often in his neighborhood of The Bowery, at a time when the area was known for being rough and derelict and avoided by “uptowners.”
Feldstein’s work reflects his keen sense of observation, focusing on architectural details, design patterns, and deep shadows. He enjoyed incorporating text into his shots, to somewhat humorous or ironic effect. One photograph features the side of a building with text in all-caps, “RESTAURANT/HOME COOKING/HEROS,” while two men stand in front, one watching as the other is bent over, trying to open or close a delivery door. While people were generally not his main focus, blurred pedestrians sometimes make an appearance in his long exposures, and in one photograph he captures the lower half of a pedestrian from the back, someone pushing a shopping cart, as we see from the shadow that falls on the sidewalk. Here, the shadow becomes almost an abstraction.
Feldstein was born in Milan, Italy, and grew up in New York City where he later studied at Hunter College, where one of his teachers was Robert Motherwell. Feldstein began his artistic career as a painter, but transitioned to photography in the 1970s, when this body of work was created.
In a monograph of his work, critic and curator Ellen Handy wrote, “The world is enriched when a master artist employs his eye to seek beauties unseen by others, and brings them to our attention through skillful observation, composition and superb photographic print-making -- and this Feldstein has consistently done in his work.”