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IN THE NEWS
November 30, 2013
Einstein hatte ihm zunächst nur zehn Minuten eingeräumt, sein Porträt aufzunehmen, am Ende bleibt er zwei Stunden in Princeton, die beiden erzählen sich einen Witz nach dem nächsten. Als er Arendt trifft, diskutiert er mit ihr den halben Nachmittag, sie blickt wie aus einem Gedankengang hinaus, der Blick geschärft, eindringlich, lauernd, die Zigarette in der Hand kurz abgesetzt, um gleich weiterzusprechen. Die bierglasbodendicke Brille von Arnold Zweig habe ihn terrorisiert, notiert er, ewig spiegelt sie das Licht, irgendwann beim Sprechen über sein letztes Manuskript neigt der Schriftsteller zufällig den Kopf und sieht nicht mehr aus wie ein geblendeter Otter.
We were staying at the Warwick Hotel at the corner of Sixth Avenue and 54th, a charming old hotel built in 1926 by William Randolph Hearst for his Hollywood friends whose photos now cover the stairwells and hallways. It was mid-December, on the lip of Christmas, and the city was in a festive mood. I had arranged to meet Peter Stein and his wife Dawn Freer for lunch. Stein is a cinematographer. He has shot over 50 films, T.V. movies, and documentaries and teaches at the Graduate Film School of NYU. His wife is an editor and scriptwriter. But we weren’t getting together to talk about film. We were meeting to talk about Peter’s father.
June 7, 2012
Somehow the legacy of this photographer is only now on its way to gaining the true recognition it deserves. We need not look at many works to realize their quality, their belonging to the time and place of the artist and his contemporaries. Perhaps it was the era and Stein's need to keep on the move, to reinvent and rebuild himself that worked against his earlier establishment. Born in Dresden, Stein studied law but the Nazi Government denied him admission to the bar. Stein and his wife left Germany in 1933 claiming to be on honeymoon. They traveled to Paris where Stein began taking photographs with the Leica they bought as a joint wedding present.
June 1, 2012
The career of Fred Stein (1909-1967) illustrates how easily a talented photographer can be written out of history. Born in Dresden, Germany, Mr. Stein belonged to the generation that documented trouble in Europe with hand-held cameras (in his case, a Leica) during the 1930s. Fleeing Leipzig for Paris in 1933 and France for the U.S. in 1941, he found a home with the Photo League in New York and established a successful studio practice here, specializing in portraiture.
April 8, 2012
The lawyer-turned-photographer—who fled Germany in the nineteen-thirties, moving first to Paris and then to New York—was easily overshadowed by such contemporaries as André Kertész, Lisette Model, and Helen Levitt. But this selection of vintage black-and-white prints makes a strong case for reëvaluating the work, much of which could be mistaken for that of his more famous peers.
November 18, 2011
The years 35/37 : avant-garde photographers are reunited for an exhibition at the legendary Pléiade gallery: Brassaï, Man Ray, André Kertesz, Henri Cartier- Bresson and… Fred Stein. An unknown. Yet this is a photographer who, as early as 1933, fled Germany and befriended Capa and Gerda Taro, and was never without his Leica. He lived, worked, and shared the intimacy of those who were, and remain the greatest intellectuals, thinkers, artists, poets, musicians and writers of the 20th century. They also represented moral consciousness, demonstrating their refusal of a world where dark clouds of intolerance and fascism were forming over Europe.
January 18, 2004
Fred Stein’s black-and-white photographs deal with remembrance. Mr. Stein fled Nazi Germany – first to Paris in 1933 and then, in 1941, to New York. He viewed both cities with an outsider’s fascination and curiosity, as well as a deeply humanistic interest in urban life. Like all great street photographers, he interpreted as he observed.
Broader artistic recognition eluded Fred Stein during his accomplished but relatively short career as a freelance documentary photographer and photojournalist. But a series of recent photography exhibitions in New York, Spain and France, and the release of a limited edition portfolio of Stein’s work, has brought a new appreciation for his substantial achievement as an artist and chronicler of his times. A pioneer in the use of 35mm reportage, Stein transformed his life experiences and political idealism into a compelling and comprehensive visual record of European and American society from the rise of Fascism and Nazi Germany to the aftermath of World War II.
Fred Stein was born on July 3, 1909 in Dresden, Germany. His father (who died when Stein was only six years old) was a rabbi, and his mother was a religion teacher. An independent thinker, Stein became active in socialist and anti-Nazi movements as a teenager. He joined the Socialist Workers’ Party, a non-Communist splinter group of the Social Democrats. He lectured and rode around on his bike distributing anti-Nazi literature. Stein was a brilliant student full of humanist ideals, attending Leipzig University to study law. He obtained his law degree in an impressively short time, but was denied admission to the German bar by the Nazi government for “racial and political reasons.”
Fred Stein used a camera to show the humanity in the everyday world. Born in Germany in 1909, he became a brilliant law student and a committed anti-Nazi activist. After being denied admission to the German bar by the Nazi government for “racial and political reasons,” and seeing the implications of the Fascist threat beginning to materialize in earnest, Stein fled to Paris in 1933 under the pretext of taking a honeymoon.
December 19, 1999
Like all good photojournalists, Fred Stein (1909-1967) had an eye for intriguing detail and a knack for capturing the revealing moment. But more important, he combined a documentarian’s acumen with an artist’s visual sensibility. This selection of his vintage prints concentrates on the 1930’s, when he began using a hand-held Leica to record the street life of Paris, and the 1940’s in New York, where he settled during World War II.
November 29, 1998
When the Dresden-born photographer Fred Stein (1909-1967) bought his Leica in 1933, he saw the potential for the new, hand-held equipment to facilitate the recording of momentary effects. The purchase coincided with his move to Paris, where, until his departure for New York in 1941, he concentrated on the serendipitous discoveries of the street that seem so memorable.
In 1946, photographer Fred Stein had an opportunity to meet with Albert Einstein, and was allotted 10 minutes to capture the notable physicist on film. However, the minutes turned into two hours as the men discussed art, politics, religion and other issues of the day. Because he was engaged in conversation – and not posed - Einstein’s thoughtfulness is revealed in the resulting images, giving us a glimpse of the great mind at work.
“He died too young, too early. If he had lived another 20 years, he would now be more recognized.” Peter Stein is talking about his father, Fred, whose documentary photographs captured poignant moments in the street life of two of the world’s great cities, and whose portraits sought to reveal the personalities of a number of the artists, writers and politicians of his time.
Among the images that will live forever in the collective consciousness of the Western world are the insightful portraits by Fred Stein. Dedicated as much to humanity as he was to the camera, Stein's mission as a photographer was to capture the souls of those he photographed. His subjects were the educated elite: scientists, artists, writers, architects, and politicians. They were also the man on the street: children, lovers, workers, hobos, and peddlers. He got to know his eminent subjects backward and forward. He read their bodies of work, and knew where they stood in the world, as well as the positions they held in their respective disciplines. When he wasn't photographing his more famous subjects, he was walking the city streets, recording life as it unfolded before him.