New York Photo Review
NYPR Archives - 2010

Humphrey Spender
A Remembrance on the 100th Anniversary of his Birth
Humphrey Spender

This small but well composed exhibition is in sharp contrast to the more glamorous images of Bill Allard hanging in the next room in the Leica Gallery.

It’s a testament to the work of Humphrey Spender, a leading English photojournalist during the 1930s who was known on Fleet Street as ”Lensman” when he worked for the Picture Post. The 26 black and white 12” x16” images on display show Spender’s ability to document the life of the English working class, usually unobserved by his subjects. In fact, Spender became a member of the “Mass Observation” movement, which dedicated itself to photographing working class communities. He hid his camera under his bulky raincoat and took photographs of daily life—from street scenes to people working in textile mills. Spender was so obsessed with remaining unobserved that he considered a photo spoiled if any of his subjects looked at him. One cannot help but think of Walker Evans’s subway series. The work shown here are vintage prints and fascinating for the most part since they capture real people at work and play—a woman scrubbing a doorstep, men smoking in a club, interiors of typical English pubs, kids playing, all unaware they’ve been caught on camera.

Humphrey Spender
A Remembrance on the 100th Anniversary of his Birth

670 Broadway 5th Fl
Lower Manhattan - West         Map

212 777 3051

Friday, March 5 to
Saturday, April 17, 2010
Hours: Tues-Sat, 12 to 6