New York in Color @Howard Greenberg

JTF (just the facts): A group show of 42 color photographs from 30 different photographers, generally framed in black and matted, and hung against light brown walls in the main gallery space, a side viewing room, and the back room near Greenberg’s office. The mostly later prints were made using a mix of chromogenic, pigment, and dye transfer processes, with physical dimensions ranging in size from 10×8 to 46×34. The images were taken between 1947 and 2008. A monograph of this body of work was published by Abrams in 2011 (here). The exhibit was curated by Bob Shamis. (Installation shots at right.)

The following photographers have been included in the show, with the number of images on view and the print dates in parentheses:

Micha Bar’am (1, 1968/Later)

Nina Berman (1, 2000/Later)

Erwin Blumenfeld (2, 1955/Later)

Jerry Dantzic (1, 1950s/Later)

Bruce Davidson (1, 1980/Later)

Louis Faurer (2, 1947, 1950)

Burt Glinn (2, 1959/Later, 1964/Later)

Ernst Haas (1, 1952/1995)

Gail Albert Halaban (1, 2008)

Erich Hartmann (1, 1971/Later)

Eveyln Hofer (1, 1964/Later)

Don Hunstein (1, 1961/Later)

Len Jenshel (1, 2003)

William Klein (1, 1962/Later)

Saul Leiter (2, 1954/Later, 1957/Later)

Helen Levitt (1, 1972)

Danny Lyon (1, 1966/2005)

Jeff Mermelstein (2, 1993, 2000/2009)

Joel Meyerowitz (3, 1964/Later, 1974/Later, 1975/Later)

Abelardo Morell (1, 2009)

Margaret Morton (2, 2006, 2008)

Marvin Newman (3, 1952/Later, 1953/Later, 1956/Later)

Normal Parkinson (1, 1949/Later)

Frank Paulin (1, 1956/2011)

Lynn Saville (1, 2003/Later)

Harvey Stein (1, 1995/Later)

Todd Weinstein (1, 1980/Later)

Susan Wides (3, 1999, 2007, 2010)

Harry Wilks (1, 2005)

Amani Willett (1, 2005)

Comments/Context: When asked to remember the most iconic and emblematic photographs of New York, I think it’s safe to say that many, if not all of us would come up with images in black and white. This broadly inclusive show (and the accompanying book) tries to rebalance the scales a bit by gathering pictures of the city that were made in vibrant, exuberant color. Bypassing the obvious, it is a show of lesser known discoveries and rediscoveries.

As I circled the galleries, I found myself gravitating toward those images that were really about color, rather than just in color. Saul Leiter’s shiny red and yellow taxi, Danny Lyon’s blue and yellow subway platform, Marvin Newman’s yellow Coney Island photo shop, and Ernst Haas’ geometric brown and white locksmith’s sign all turn on bold contrasts and color textures. Other images have jolts and sparkles of color that enliven their stories: Joel Meyerowitz’ red Easter dress, Louis Faurer’s blue sidewalk, Burt Glinn’s saturated yellow liquor cabinet, and Norman Parkinson’s jaunty red hat. Of the many street photographs in this show, I liked Nina Berman’s Times Square casting call best, not so much for its use of color, but because of its layers of personal narratives (and different sized heads) all caught in a single frame.

Given that this show spans nearly sixty years of New York history, it’s not surprising that it feels eclectic and uneven; I imagine that’s on purpose at some level, to illustrate the diversity of stylistic approaches used in documenting life in the city across time. As such, I think this show is less the ultimate scholarly canon of New York color photography, and more a roomy sampler of what has perhaps been unjustly overlooked.

Collector’s POV: The prints in this show range in price from $1600 to $25000, with most available for under $5000

Burt Glinn, Danny Lyon, Ernst Haas, Joel Meyerowitz, Louis Faurer, Marvin Newman, Nina Berman, Norman Parkinson, Saul Leiter, Howard Greenberg Gallery, Abrams Books

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