Thursday, March 13, 2014

Sid Grossman lectures a student of the Photo League

Anne Tucker mounted an exhibition of Sid Grossman's photographs at the MFAH and in the process asked me if I could help with the financing. I gave her a small check and in return she gave me a copy of Grossman's only publication, 'A Journey to the Cape'. When I read the small book I noticed that one of the people Grossman thanked was David Vestal. I looked at my copy of Vestal's book 'The Craft of Photography' and found this picture of Grossman Vestal had taken in 1949 while he was a student at the Photo League and studying with Grossman.
I wrote David a letter and asked if he would sell me a print. He agreed and soon I had my print.
I proposed a 'deal'. I would send him a small check when I had a little extra and when he got enough checks he could send me a print of his choice. He wrote back and seemed to jump at the proposal.
That was in 1992 and our deal continued until his death on December 4 2013.
Strange how things can turn out. It's fair to say that David and I became friends and I probably gained more from our association than he did, in that I've learned a great deal from David. Certainly I feel like I've gotten more value out of the exchange than the small amount of money I've sent him over the years.
According to David Vestal;
"Sid Grossman's apartment had one large room with two windows facing south. Buildings across the street blocked the sun, so the place was dark. Here Sid pretends to scold me. I had no meter and exposed by guess.  The negative is thin and flat. I never printed it well in the darkroom. For this inkjet I scanned a far-to-contrasty print.  Photoshop controls let me coax grays that were swallowed by blackness back into the visible range. Visibility does seem to help some photos, as I think Sid would agree. He was a marvelous photographer and printer whose work and thinking kept changing for the better.  At each new stage he felt that now he had finally arrived, but soon went beyond that.
Unfortunately, he died at 42.

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