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Catalogue Introduction


THE WORLD OF FRED STEIN is rooted in a deep respect for humanity and a commitment to connecting to the world we live in.  Stein’s tender approach to a tumultuous time is representative of his personal stake in history.


Willy Brandt, Fred Stein’s lifelong friend, wrote that 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”.


Stein found ways to bring together the parallel worlds of enormous turmoil due to the war, the depression, poverty, displacement, raging anti-semitism and violence, and the simultaneous beauty, fragility, and closeness amongst his subjects. His ability to respect the scenes he photographed while also sharing the very core of these moments with the world displays perhaps his key artistic asset: empathy.


Stein’s Paris and New York work preceded the long overdue recognition of photography as a complex fine art medium.  He was a pioneer of modern photography, capturing the beauty and nuance of his moment in time, but, unfortunately died too young to enjoy the level of recognition of his contemporaries.  We are here today to pay homage to Stein and to his photographs: they are not just documents of a time, they are moving and important works of art for all time. 


We are honored to represent the Fred Stein Estate, and in so doing to have had the privilege to work with Peter Stein and Dawn Freer in assembling a testimony to a great artist and humanist.