Vintage New York: Photographs 1947 - 1988
September 12 - October 19, 2002
The June Bateman Fine Art is pleased to inaugurate its Fall exhibition season with Vintage New York, Photographs 1947-1988, a group exhibition of over fifty black and white vintage prints by New York photographers Amy Arbus, Richard Blair, Victor Friedman, Builder Levy, Michael Martone, Harvey Stein, and Jim Steinhardt.
Both New York and photography are undergoing rapid transformation at present. Vintage New York focuses on the city that, while always changing, has retained much of its traditional character. Although the physical structure of the city is portrayed in the included images, its primary focus is on the the vibrancy of the city as reflected by its people at work, at play, protesting, creating, passing by and being themselves. With few exceptions, only vintage work is included in the show so that the prints as well as the images reflect in the photographic materials and practices of their period.
The past and present are, of course, inseparable, and one cannot look at Vintage New York without making an implicit comparison between where we are now and where we have been. So it is that Richard Blair's 1981 photograph juxtaposes two architectural icons of the skyline in which the steel of the World Trade Towers are echoed by the twin stone supports of the Brooklyn Bridge. Michael Martone also looks at spaces but in a highly subjective style that shatters the barrier separating the public and the private. In a selection of photographs from his series "Notes From A Moving Ambulance" the autobiographical impulse that stands behind all of his work is reflected in a self-portrait of a very young photographer holding an old Speed graphic camera and peering out at the city through a window.
In the street photography of Builder Levy, we see protests and other manifestations of movements which shaped American and New York life in the 1960s. Jim Steinhardt brings us back further with a series of prints from the 1940s, which recall an extraordinary era in the New York School of street photographers who explored the city with a grittiness that contrasted with the more lyrical sensibility of their European predecessors.
The show includes examples of an urban environmental portraiture that is the primary focus of the work of Harvey Stein, Amy Arbus and Victor Friedman. Arbus' photographs, taken from work produced for the "On the Street" Village Voice column from 1980 to 1991 present street portraits of downtown styles that are temporally more recent than many of the photographs in the show but which nonetheless document a creative era that, like the 1940s and 1960s has receded into history. Victor Friedman's decades long body of work stands within the street photography tradition in prints that demonstrate a deep commitment to darkroom techniques that both reflect and expand the chance encounters on the street, while Harvey Stein's 1970's photographs of twins from his published collection Parallels: A Look at Twins makes use of domestic and work spaces to comment on the feverish consumer culture of that era.