Monroe Gallery announces representation of the Sonia Handelman Meyer estate
March 25, 2023 | Source: Monroe Gallery of Photography
March 25, 2023
SANTA FE, NM.- Monroe Gallery of Photography has announced its representation of the Sonia Handelman Estate, and will exhibit a selection of lifetime and vintage prints at the 2023 AIPAD Photography Show in New York City March 31-April 2 and present a 2-person exhibit with Ida Wyman: “Pioneering Women of The Photo League” at Monroe Gallery in Santa Fe, April 21-June 18, 2023.
The Photo League was a collective of photographers active between 1936-1951 who believed their work could change poor social conditions and champion photography as an art form in the process. The Photo League thrived as one of the most progressive, dynamic and creative centers for photography in America, and was unusual in its time as many of the collective’s members were women. In the 1940s when McCarthyism started gathering momentum in the US, suspicious authorities decided to clamp down on the Photo League’s confrontational and uncensored representations of urban American society. In 1948, it was declared a subversive organization and blacklisted. As the league’s secretary at the time, Sonia Handelman Meyer answered the office phone when requests for comment about the accusations poured in from the media. “It got to be too much,” she told The New York Times. “They were blacklisting people”.
Sonia Handelman was born on Feb. 12, 1920, in Lakewood, N.J., and grew up in New York City. Her parents were Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe. After graduating college in 1941, Handelman Meyer worked during World War II in the Office of War Information for the U.S. Signal Corps in Puerto Rico, and the Office of War Information in New York, and then at a news photography agency. In 1943 she joined the Photo League, where she studied with John Ebstel and Sid Grossman. She also served as secretary (the only paid position at the League) and, in 1948-50, as chair of the Hine Committee. She participated in several group exhibitions, including "This Is the Photo League" (1948–49). Handelman Meyer collaborated with Morris Huberland on a photographic series of Sydenham Hospital in Harlem (1947) and photographed in neighborhoods throughout New York. She later documented the Weavers, the American folk group that included Pete Seeger. Her photographs appeared in The New York Times (1947–48) and U.S. Camera Annual (1947). Her photographs also appeared in the exhibition "Photographic Crossroads: The Photo League" at the International Center of Photography, New York (1978) and "The Women of Photo League" at Higher Pictures Gallery, New York (2009).
Sonia Handelman Meyer died on September 11, 2022, at her home in Charlotte, N.C., at age 102.
Sonia Handelman Meyer’s work went unrecognized for decades. In recent years, there has been a revived interest in the radical collective that contributed incomparably towards promoting early street photography as an art form.