(1911 - 2005)
Bernstein received his first camera in 1936. Photography was Lou's hobby early on, but his passion for photography only intensified. He sought out the shakers and movers of photography in . Within a few years, Lou and his photography was featured frequently in newspapers, magazines, books, television, galleries and museum exhibitions, in New York and worldwide. Lou was one of the charter members of the controversial "Photo League", a photographic organization active in New York City from 1936 through the early 1950's. Its members included almost every prominent photographer and photo journalist in New York , now legendary. Bernstein was self taught, and influenced by both Sid Grossman, Founder of "The Photo League", and Eli Siegel, Founder of Aesthetic Realism, Philosopher and Professor. America
We all have heard the metaphor "don't quit your day job". Lou never did. He did not want to be a professional photo journalist, although he could have. Lou wanted to photograph what he felt was honest, sensitive and important photographs. He also wanted to be where the activity of the photographic world was, that was in
, at Peerless Camera Stores, NY, the largest professional photographers supply store in the world. His position enabled him to be at the center of photography, where his friends and fellow contemporaries met, without notice. Legendary photographers like, W. Eugene Smith, Wynn Bullock, Lisette Model, Sid Grossman, Edward Steichen, Gary Winogrand, Weegee and Jack Deschin, Sunday Photography Editor, for The New York Times, just to name a few. It allowed him weekends and nights, to photograph, develop, print and exhibit his work, and time to be totally committed to his love of photography. Always the town crier when it came to photography, he mentored innumerable photographic students, professionals, enthusiasts and aficionados, who sought him out for advice, direction and assistance that pursued his approach to the elements, and emotional involvement, one experiences in capturing the moment, Life is Art. Lou's media celebrity seem to take on a life of its own. He gave back for the encouragement of others, who shared his passion and interest in photography. New York
During the 1950s through the 1980s, Bernstein's personal philosophy, theories, views and articulations on the aesthetics of photography as a true art medium, had established him as a much sought after lecturer, teacher and critic. He possessed strong opinionated verbal skills, and had the ability to critically analyze, and communicate his individualistic intellectual property on the photography as an art. He conducted numerous private and public group photographic workshops, as well as becoming a college educator. Bernstein taught at The Phoenix School of Design, NY, assumed the classes of W. Eugene Smith, at Cooper Union, NY, replacing Smith at his request when Smith went to
for Life Magazine to photograph his famous Minimato Series. Bernstein was considered as one of the prominent great photographers of his generation and was know as "the photographer’s photographer". Japan
Edward Steichen included two of Bernstein's photographs in his masterpiece exhibition, "The Family of Man" in 1955, during his tenure as Director of Photography, at The Museum of Modern Art, NY. In the late 1950s Steichen acquired ten (10) other photographs of Lou Bernstein's to be included in their permanent collection at the MOMA, NY.
Bernstein was the originator and author of a highly successful bi-monthly article, titled "Critique", for Camera 35 Magazine, that was published from 1968-1972. In April 1972, Lou was a participating critic along with many other recognized dignitaries & educators of photography, representing The society for Photographic Education, New York Region, and asked to contribute to Critique 72, at The New School for Social Research, in New York .
Bernstein's photography has been exhibited, and acclaimed at more than sixty museums world-wide. In his six and a half decade career, he had achieved more than 187 lifetime events exhibiting and or publishing his photographs. Other reference on line sites are: www.freepedia.co.uk/DIRPhotoBernstein.php, www.loubernsteinlegacy.com, an Google Search, Lou Bernstein Photographer.
Lou Bernstein presently has over one hundred and sixty (160) photographs in the following permanent collections: The Museum of Modern Art, The Museum Chateau de Cleavaux, The Museum of Fine Arts, The Center for Creative Photography, The Spencer Museum of Art, The International Center of Photography, The Columbus Museum of Art, and The Jewish Museum of Art.
W. Eugene Smith, and many of the legendary photographers that have now passed, joked with Lou often, regarding him being, one of the most prominent and unknown photographers of his generation. The truth is his work reached world-wide recognition, for many decades and still does.
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