Lida Moser

Lida Moser

Canadian museum features Lida Moser's work

Lida Moser, 93, a resident of the Hebrew Home until passing away at age 93 in the summer of 2014, could hardly believe that 65 years had passed from the time she journeyed to the Province of Québec on special assignment to capture – with her camera – the essence of a rural Canadian community.

A spirited, up-and-coming New York photographer in 1950, admired for her sharp eye, photojournalistic skills, and innovative approach to high-end commercial work for fashion publications and book publishers, Lida actually had to be coaxed into making the trip. Why? She didn’t know a word of French.

Fortunately, she admited, the townspeople, “simple, innocent, with no pretensions,” greeted her warmly and “everything fell into place.” Her efforts culminated in producing Québec a l’été 1950, a large-format volume of striking black and white photos taken of farmers, fishermen, families, and winsome architectural details. Together, they elevate time and place into an art form.

Lida lived long enough to know that she was about to be honored in a quite unexpected way. In 2015, a major retrospective of her Québec photos, numbering over 250, will be mounted at Québec’s National Fine Arts Museum. To prepare for the event, Canadian curator Anne-Marie Bouchard, Ph.D. traveled to Rockville to interview Lida and gather background material for the exhibition catalogue; in addition, Bouchard described her plan to bicycle along Lida's route, hoping to meet and speak with some of the children who were photographed, now older adults themselves.

Seated next to Dr. Bouchard as they slowly turned the pages of Québec a l’été 1950, Lida offered the curator her observations. “I always love the position of someone who’s working,” she said, peering at the creviced face of a craftsman busy at his workbench. “See these two men? They were a father and son who insisted on changing from work clothes into their Sunday suits so I could photograph them looking their best.” “Can you imagine this photo without the light here? It would be nothing!” “These people are harvesting seaweed, can you imagine?”

Lida's career spanned three decades. Her work was featured on the pages of Harper’s Bazaar, Vogue, Look, and Esquire. A member of the New York School, she authored and co-authored technical photography books and wrote a column for the New York Times. Today, her photographs belong to museum collections worldwide; her own portrait, painted by artist Alice Neel, is in the permanent collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.

We were proud to have Lida Moser on our campus and delighted that an upcoming exhibition will trigger renewed recognition of her accomplishments and stature as a leading photographer of the twentieth century.


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