The Museum of the City of New York has come up with yet another wonderful photography exhibition, “Celebrating the City.” It mixes past and present, as well well-known photographers with newcomers whose visions of New York’s streets and neighborhoods are illuminating and often playful. The images are arranged by theme – Working, Shopping, Playing, etc. – rather than chronology, and capture quintessential New York moments.
Double Trouble 1983, Jill Freedman
Untitled, (Two Women in Subway) 1979, Jamal Shabazz
Untitled (Four men in front of hat display)1982, Jamal Shabazz
Bree Darby, 2021, Mahtab Hussain
A striking portrait of Bree Darby also includes her thoughts about growing up part-Black, part-Indian and Muslim in the city.
Woman and Taxi, 1982, Helen Levitt
An unfamiliar image by the great Helen Levitt – best known for her photographs of children playing in the streets of the city – is deliciously eternal. I’d love to have “Woman and Taxi” on my wall.
Untitled, 1996, Mitch Epstein
The inside of a cop’s hat with a photograph of his girlfriend or wife inside, by Mitch Epstein, an early proponent of color photography as fine art, is unexpected and touching.
Two Men in Chairs, 1939, Helen Levitt
Baseball Plie, 1982, Sylvia Plachy
Willie, 1962, Ken Heyman
Over the years, The Museum of the City of New York has mounted exceptional photo exhibitions of New York-focused work, such as Stanley Kubrick’s early work as a black and white photographer. Now, its permanent collection has expanded, due to the recent donation to the Museum by Joy of Giving Something, Inc. (JGS), a nonprofit organization created by the late financier and collector Howard Stein to support the photographic arts by working in partnership with museums, schools, and community organizations.
According to the Museum, “This transformational donation includes nearly 1,000 photographs with works by more than 40 photographers who are now represented in the permanent collection for the first time.”
This is great news for all of us who love the city and love viewing its street life and landscapes through the lens of the world’s greatest photographers.
Museum of the City of New York
1220 Fifth Ave at 103rd Street
Open Friday–Sunday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Text and photos by Eleanor Foa Dienstag