Thesis & Background
Born in Brooklyn, New York, in 1918, Arthur Leipzig grew up to originally work as a glass wholesaler (Leipzig). His career path was changed however when he incurred a serious injury to his right hand. As a result of this incident, Leipzig decided to join the Photo League in 1942. He utilized what he learned from the Photo League to land a job with Newspaper PM, where he worked for the next four years. In 1946, he left Newspaper PM and took a brief stint with International News Photos, which eventually led to him becoming a freelance photojournalist (Leipzig). The next step in Leipzig’s career was teaching at Long Island University, which he did for 28 years. In recognition of his work in photography, Leipzig has been awarded the Lucie Award for Outstanding Achievement in Fine Art Photography, the National Urban League Photography Award, and several more awards.
Arthur Leipzig’s Growing Up in New York vividly illustrates the experiences of New Yorkers as they enter different stages in their lives. Initially analyzing the innocent play of youth, this photo book continues on to capture the romance, nightlife, and work that the city is comprised of. Additionally, it exposes political and social issues, albeit never really focusing on the disparity between the wealthy and the poor. Furthermore, Arthur Leipzig’s own experience with growing up in New York influenced his collection, for he focused on what he was able to see in the city as an insider. In addition, his Jewish background gave him the ability to truly understand the struggle and discrimination which some of the New Yorkers in his photos were subject to.
Much of Leipzig’s masterpiece is honest and taken from hip level. There exists very little if any manipulation as he depicts the natural movements of the city, unhampered by staging or intrusion. Even though many of Leipzig’s images are casual or routine, they depict emotion, energy, and faith. Not all of his pictures were of happiness, since a portion of his work displayed the poverty, racism, corruption, and violence of the city; however, through this, Arthur Leipzig showed that no matter how bad things could get, New Yorkers still were hopeful that things would get better. They may not have all believed in the same values or religion, but they all believed in hope (Leipzig). Leipzig captured this beauty in his wide range of photographs.