Todd Webb (1905–2000) arrived in New York in 1946, armed with a camera and the training of a Navy photographer. By then, he’d already worked with other photography greats like Ansel Adams and Harry Callahan. But Webb ultimately made a name for himself with the images he took of the American military in the South Pacific Theater.
In New York, what he saw and fell in love with was the everyday life of the people who surrounded him. His first major show, I See a City, happened in that year with the aid of Beaumont NewHall and Grace Mayer in the Museum of the City of New York.
His photography of New York was that of a man exploring at street level. Walking, finding beauty in anything he sees. He loved the small, crowded shops of Third Avenue. The elevated trains, the street markets and food vendors and the busy ant-like life of the sidewalk commuter.
On April 20th, over 70 years after that first exhibition, the Museum of the City of New York will once again host Webb’s vision. His second solo exhibition in the same halls, A City Seen: Todd Webb’s Postwar New York, 1945-1960 will be a retrospective of more than 100 prints from that 15 years of the photographer’s wanderings, highlighted by excerpts of writings both by Webb and his artistic contemporaries.
Alongside his original prints, made using large format film and a tripod for which he became known, there will be new prints made by artist John Hill using negatives from the era; most by Walker Evans, but some by Webb as well.
Concurrently to this exhibition, The Curator Gallery in Chelsea will be hosting Down Any Street, another collection of Webb’s photographs from the same time period.
A City Seen begins April 20th and will go until September 4th of this year. The museum operates on a “suggested admission” system, which is $18 for adults, $12 for students and seniors, and free for ages 19 and under.