Sources estimate that Murray Korman produced more than 475,000 images during his lifetime. One newspaper obituary notes that at the peak of his career he was “turning out 10,000 prints a week.” But sadly, although it’s not difficult to occasionally find one of his prints for sale on the internet, the majority of Murray’s work is lost, a victim primarily of the technology prevalent during his era. Through the early stages of his career, most negatives were made with a nitrate film base that was extremely flammable and decomposed after several decades. It was not until the early 1950s that Eastman Kodak marketed and sold acetate “safety film,” a more enduring product. It’s this type of negative that constitutes the small portion of Murray’s work that survived the test of time, stored away for almost 60 years.
Murray was survived in death by two nieces, Sally Greaves and Roberta Satro, who inherited his meager estate. A portion of this estate consisted of cartons filled with large-format negatives. By the time of his death interest in Murray’s work had waned and the nieces, uncertain what to do with this would-be treasure, simply stashed it away. The negatives eventually made their way into the possession of Sally’s daughter, Leslie Greaves, a New York artist. Recognizing their artistic and historic value, Leslie began to explore possible avenues to preserve the negatives and resurrect her great-uncle’s legacy.
In 2013, by a peculiar set of circumstances, Leslie began corresponding with a graphic artist who had been introduced to Murray’s work several years earlier. The artist, Clyde Adams, had a passion for the history of that era and a love of fine art photography. An agreement was reached and the negatives soon made their way from Leslie to Clyde, who meticulously scanned each one. It’s this collection of over 600 images that populates the Murray Korman Photography web site.