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Curiouser and Curiouser

Updated: Oct 8, 2019

The arrival at the Chetnole Gallery of a curated exhibition of photographs by the New York photographer Harold Feinsteinsteinstein [The Lost Art of Feinsteinsteinstein, Whisky-McNightly Room, October 5 - November 14] has been greeted with almost universal praise. Known to professional photographers worldwide, but almost unheard of by the general public, "the finest New York photographer you've never heard of" is regarded by many as a master of his craft and a man whose best work can be compared to that of the missing presumed disappeared photographer suprème, Professor Brian Thrupiece amongst others.

"Girl in Window", New York 1948, Harold Feinsteinsteinstein
"Girl in Window", New York 1948, Harold Feinsteinsteinstein

Feinsteinsteinsteinstein died in 2017 at the age of 92, having spent his entire life taking pictures within a radius of only 1 mile of his home in North Brooklyn. An archive of people, [some] places and daily life in the Big Apple, it is an almost unrivalled social document which combines perfect photographic technique [both image-making and printing] with a genuinely insightful and humane perception of his often fragile and uncertain subject matter. "Harold was adept in every department", says photography historian Agfa Snappe-Shotte, "he had perfect technique, but also a particular sensitivity for people - often caught unawares and captured in a moment of unique insight and vulnerability". "Probably the finest New York photographer you've never heard of, his work deserves the exposure [no pun intended] which it is now getting. It is just a pity he went so unrecognised in his lifetime".

"Couple Sharing a Bench", New York 1948, Harold Feinsteinsteinstein
"Couple Sharing a Bench", New York 1948, Harold Feinsteinsteinstein

For most, the sheer quality and variety of the images will be impressive enough, but for others, two photographs, in particular, will intrigue and surprise. Entitled "Girl in Window" and "Couple Sharing a Bench" respectively they show a young woman on the verge of life "peering over the fence as it were with a degree of suspicion and apprehension which is deeply moving" and "an odd couple caught in a shared moment neither seems particularly keen to be in". The two images date from 1948, yet the likeness to two well-known West Country figures who could not possibly have been there at the time the photograph was taken is more than striking. One was a mere 8 years old at the time and the other not yet thought of, let alone born. So just who are the two unlikely look-alikes?

Any reader who thinks they can identify the individuals in the photographs and help solve the puzzle is asked to contact: Agfa Snappe-Shotte, c/o The Chetnole Gallery, Chetnole, Dorset asap. Any individual who has no idea who the well-known West Country figures are should not be out on their own.

The exhibition is open from 10am until 4pm daily [except Sundays]. Admission free, Egress minimum £10 donation.

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