An exhibit featuring the work of Arthur Lavine (1940s-50s) and Jill Freedman (1960s-80s), two master street photographers who have lived in and photographed New York City over the course of many decades.
Arthur Lavine began his photographic career after returning from service in WWII. He took up residence in New York and dedicated himself to documenting the infinite variety of New York’s people and places; its cultures and traditions. His work is a testimony to the rich heterogeneity that continues to characterize this great city in the 21st century.
Mr. Lavine’s sensitive account of the New York landscape, whether men at work, people at play, holiday celebrations, or folks simply going about their daily rounds, are the product of a restless eye that tried, but happily failed, to contain New York’s sprawl within a single camera frame. One is acutely aware of the busy street life that lives just off the edge of each photo. Arthur Lavine’s photos are indelible links in the web of interconnectivity that joins New York’s many disparate communities and activities into a vibrant, organic whole. Arthur Lavine’s goal was to record New York’s “mix of humanity, activity and greatness”, and he most certainly succeeded.
For Jill Freedman New York was mad love at first sight, and it was requited time and again in the marvelous vignettes her camera captured. She is a storyteller of perfect pitch, whose subjects have clearly chosen her to tell their stories. She is, for them, the decisive photographer. Whether in high culture or low, she brings the eye of a miniaturist and the heart of a deeply compassionate person. No one is an object of ridicule or condescension in her photos: most are ennobled; a rare few the recipients of gentle irony. With great craft, Ms. Freedman cedes the stage to her subjects. She is their faithful messenger, not an interpreter – a rare quality.
She has been compared to Andre Kertesz, Sebastien Salgado as well as the painter/portraitist Alice Neel. She combines the traits of all three to deliver her record of New York with elegance, empathy and insight. Her photos are invariably a moment in a story whose past and future are compellingly communicated. As Ms. Freedman tells it: “One of the things I love about New York is its street life. It is great theater, and I love catching those little moments of real life”. She does, leaving us happily in debt to her love affair with New York.