b. 1909, Dresden, Germany
d. 1967, New York City, New York
Fred Stein was a pioneer of Modern photography; during his lifetime he associated with such luminaries as Robert Capa, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Philippe Halsman, and André Malraux. Born in Dresden, in his early twenties Stein fled to Paris after the Nazis came to power in Germany. It was there that Stein bought his first camera, a small-format 35mm Leica, and became a photographer. His photographs from this period demonstrate his commitment to humanist values, especially his concern for the poor and the downtrodden. However, equally evident is his keen eye, and his ability to capture compelling compositions.
During World War II, Stein was sent to an internment camp outside of Paris; however, he managed to escape and hitchhiked his way to Marseille. From there, he was able to send a message to his wife Lilo, who was still in Paris, and together they escaped on one of the last boats to leave France during the war, ending up in New York. This continental shift, from Europe to North America, resulted in a comparable shift in Stein's subject matter. He began focusing his lens on the gritty, fast-paced underbelly of the American metropolis. And perhaps, due to his outsider's eyes, Stein was able to capture the quintessence of New York of the mid-century. When he died in 1967 at the young age of fifty-eight, photography was still considered an illegitimate art form. But in 1983, Willy Brant, the Chancellor of Germany stated, “[Fred Stein was] a brilliant photographer inspired by his quest for justice and his concern for truth so clearly reflected in his photographs. He was truly a man of vision, and his choice of people and subjects is the obvious proof of it.” Rosenberg & Co. represents the estate of the artist.