Harold Feinstein (1931-2015) was born in 1931 in New York, and at the age of fifteen, he began ton take photography seriously. He soon joined the New York City Photoliga, a group of professional and amateur photographers, and began to play a prominent role in the photographic forefront of the city. As early as 1935, Edward Steichen, then director of photography at the Museum of Modern Art in New York (MoMA), acquired Feinstein’s work for a permanent collection.
In the early 1950s, Feinstein worked closely with Eugene Smith, one of the earliest representatives of humanist photography, to help him disassemble and edit photographs, as well as to create a model for the famous book on Pittsburgh. Thanks to Smith, Feinstein finally formed his understanding of photography and how it can influence the worldview of people. Feinstein’s most famous series of works, which he has completed for over sixty years, is dedicated to his birthplace, Coney Island. The photographer himself comments on his loyalty to the topic: «I was born on Coney Island and always said that from the womb, I went straight to the first roller coaster booth. For five cents I could take the tram to the amusement park and spend the rest of the money on walks, rides and sweets all day. Painting portraits on the pavement, I could earn a little extra cash so that I can immediately spend every single cent, and go home on the back step of the tram. But most of all I liked to watch. Over the years, Coney Island has mirrored waves of immigration and shifting neighbourhood boundaries. Orthodox Jews, African Americans, Italians, Russians, Puerto Ricans. All this motley crowd from all over the world attracted the surf, sand, wide sidewalks, attractions, Nathan’s hot dogs and the opportunity to relax and forget about restrictions.»
In 1954, Harold Feinstein’s first exhibition was held at the Whitney Museum of American Art, and in 1957 at the Museum of Modern Art in New York (MoMA). By the age of 26, Fainstan became a recognized master of photography and began teaching at the University of Pennsylvania, the Museum of Philadelphia, the School of Visual Arts in New York, the University of Massachusetts, etc.
Feinstein has been exhibited and included in the permanent collections of such institutions as the Museum of New York and the Museum of Modern Art, the International Center for Photography and the Jewish Museum in New York, the George Eastman House International Museum of Photography and Film, the Museum of Photographic Arts in San Diego. Center for Creative Photography of the University of Arizona, Museum of Modern Art in Paris. Feinstein’s work has been featured in publications such as LIFE, Aperture, Black and White, Camera Arts, The New York Times Magazine, American Photo, Oprah Magazine, Evergreen Review, Photography Annual, Modern Photography and Popular Photography. In 2012, Feinstein’s first monograph was published and won the 2013 PDN Photo Annual Award. In 2011, at the age of eight, Harold Feinstein was honoured with the Griffin Museum of Photography’s Living Legend Prize.