The work of Stanley Greenberg was brought before the public in a series of photographs of the hidden infrastructure of New York City and was published in the monograph Invisible New York (Johns Hopkins University Press, 1998). The book, described as "stately and haunting" by The New Yorker, and "a stunning series of photographs" by Salon, revealed a second city of tunnels, machinery, cables, basements and attics, a set of systems essential for the city's existence, yet unknown or misunderstood by most. A companion volume, Waterworks, was published by Princeton Architectural Press in 2003, and received the 2003 "Best Photography Book" award from the New York Society Library. This series included all aspects of the city's water system, from the many upstate reservoirs to the new water tunnel, under construction a thousand feet underground.
Because architects working today use computers to model increasingly complex structures, the construction processes, forms and materials used are a fascinating and dynamic visual experience. As Mies van der Rohe said "Only skyscrapers under construction reveal their bold constructive thoughts, and then the impression made by their soaring skeletal frames is overwhelming... On the other hand, when the structure is later covered with masonry this impression is destroyed and the constructive character destroyed." Greenberg seeks to reveal what is hidden behind the skin of these new forms and shapes. As with his earlier projects, he is interested in what makes the thing work, what its insides are, why it stands up.
Greenberg's passion for the strong architectural image, always made within existing conditions, 'straight' photography, one might say, reflect a wide variety of influences, from Walker Evans, Harry Callahan, Bernd and Hilla Becher and Winston Link to abstract expressionism and the early Italian Renaissance painters. The large prints, 30 x 40 inches, seem to reflect the sense of presence and forces called for by these ambitious architectural works.
The photographs of the "underneath" also act as metaphors for our society; so much is hidden from us in contemporary life that it is often difficult to make intelligent choices.
Stanley Greenberg's work has been exhibited at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Whitney Museum of American Art, and is in the collections of both institutions. He has received grants from the Graham Foundation, the New York State Council on the Arts, and the New York Foundation for the Arts.