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March 24, 2005

Albin O. Kuhn Library Gallery Presents On Assignment: Photographs by Arthur Leipzig

Contact: Tom Moore

Arthur Leipzig, Sleeping Child, Levittown, 1950UMBC’s Albin O. Kuhn Library Gallery presents On Assignment: Photographs by Arthur Leipzig, on display from April 11 through May 31, 2005.

Arthur Leipzig, perhaps best known for his photo essays depicting life in New York in the 1940s, has spent a lifetime capturing the human condition through his photographs. On Assignment will be the first major presentation to highlight the broad range of Leipzig’s astute photographic vision. Included are 70 photographs representing his most significant bodies of work either taken on assignment for major publications or for his own “self-assignments”: children, New York, rural labor, winter fishing in the Atlantic, Pablo Casals, South Sudan, Mexico, pediatric hospitals, and Jewish Life. The show is organized by the Library Gallery and curated by Tom Beck and Cynthia Wayne, in collaboration with the photographer.

Throughout his career, Arthur Leipzig has viewed photography as an exciting way to both connect with the world and to separate from it. He has remarked: “I have been able to observe the world and myself. Photography has helped me to learn much about both.” At eighty-six, Leipzig’s lifetime of learning is clearly visible in his photographs, a broad selection of which has been gathered into this exhibition.

Arthur Leipzig, Chalk Games, 1950Leipzig, who was born in 1918 and came of age in the Depression, left school at the age of seventeen and took on an assortment of jobs, including truck driver, salesman, office manager, and assembly line worker. While working at a wholesale glass plant, he seriously injured and lost the use of his right hand for fourteen months, an event that propelled Leipzig into photography, beginning with studies at the Photo League and with Sid Grossman. In 1942, Leipzig launched his career as photography assignment editor and staff photographer for PM, a newspaper that, like the Photo League, was people-oriented and “dared to tell the truth.” By 1947, Leipzig also had studied with Paul Strand, the eminent artist-photographer, and left PM to become a freelance photojournalist, a pursuit he continued even after 1963 when he began a 25-year teaching career at C.W. Post College, Long Island University. In recent years, exhibitions and books of Leipzig’s imagery have appeared with increasing frequency.

Not only did Leipzig photograph specifically for diverse publications such as Fortune, Look, Parade, and Natural History, but also for “self-assignments,” those that he gave to himself either with or without immediate expectations of publication. In either case, Leipzig’s primary subject always has been people who are famous primarily by virtue of having been photographed in the act of being human. His fascination with people is so pervasive that individuals almost invariably become icons of humanity in general with all beauties and imperfections clearly delineated. Undoubtedly, his diverse experiences with many different kinds of people have taught him well that humanity is an exquisite source of inspiration for images. His photographs are almost entirely visceral responses to a chaotic world to which he has sought to provide order and structure.

In 2004, Leipzig was awarded the prestigious Lucie Award for Outstanding Achievement in Fine Art Photography. The spirit behind the annual Lucie award is to salute the achievements of the world’s finest photographers, discover new and emerging talent, and promote the appreciation of photography. Gordon Parks, the 2004 Lucie Awards Lifetime Achievement recipient observed, “[Leipzig’s photography] opens up our feelings to so many things, immeasurable things that have given license to his unbridled eye. His curiosity appears inexhaustible and keeps sprouting.”

After its presentation at UMBC, the exhibition will travel to the Columbus Museum of Art, where it will be on view December 17, 2005 – March 11, 2006. A book by the same title is being published by Bulfinch Press.

Arthur Leipzig, Brooklyn Bridge, 1946Gallery Information
The Albin O. Kuhn Gallery serves as one of the principal art galleries in the Baltimore region. Items from the Special Collections Department, as well as art and artifacts from all over the world, are displayed in challenging and informative exhibitions for the University community and the public. Moreover, traveling exhibitions are occasionally presented, and the Gallery also sends some of its exhibits throughout the state and nation. Admission to the Gallery is free.

Funding for On Assignment has been provided in part from an arts program grant from the Maryland State Arts Council, an agency funded by the State of Maryland and the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Friends of the Library & Gallery.

Hours of Operation
Sunday: Closed
Monday: 12 p.m. - 4:30 p.m.
Tuesday: 12 p.m. - 4:30 p.m.
Wednesday: 12 p.m. - 4:30 p.m.
Thursday: 12 p.m. - 8 p.m.
Friday: 12 p.m. - 4:30 p.m.
Saturday: 1 p.m. - 5 p.m.

General Gallery information: 410-455-2270
UMBC Artsline (24 hour recorded message): 410-455-ARTS
Media inquiries only: 410-455-3370

UMBC Arts website:
Gallery website:
UMBC Arts News Releases:

Images for Media
High resolution images for media are available online: or by email or postal mail. The images in this release and others are available at 300 dpi on high resolution image website.


  • From Baltimore and points north, proceed south on I-95 to exit 47B. Take Route 166 toward Catonsville and then follow signs to the Albin O. Kuhn Library.
  • From I-695, take Exit 12C (Wilkens Avenue) and continue one-half mile to the entrance of UMBC at the intersection of Wilkens Avenue and Hilltop Road. Turn left and follow signs to the Albin O. Kuhn Library.
  • From Washington and points south, proceed north on I-95 to Exit 47B. Take Route 166 toward Catonsville and then follow signs to the Albin O. Kuhn Library.
  • Daytime metered visitor parking is available in the Walker Avenue Garage. Visitor parking regulations are enforced on all University calendar days. Hilltop Circle and all campus roadways require a parking permit unless otherwise marked.
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Arthur Leipzig, Divers, 1948


Posted by tmoore at March 24, 2005 2:27 PM