Some of the 246 works in the exhibit, “New York—The City That Never Sleeps”, are totally in line with the average Yekaterinburg resident’s standard impression of the “Big Apple”, which inevitably includes the throng of people running down the street or the view looking up at the Empire State Building. Other works defy the traditional point of view: for example, the master photo-journalist Arthur Leipzig photographs a man climbing up the side of the Empire State, and the whole building look topsy-turvy.
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This photographic account of New York shows it as a living organism, with a firm skeleton of buildings and people as the bloodstream. The people of New York have been closely studied by the pioneers of documentary photography, Walter Rosenblum and Arthur Leipzig, who set the gold standard for photographers all over the world. Rosenblum was just 19 when he took his famous series of images of the Bronx—touching, honest and intelligent photos of children playing in an inhumane setting. During World War II, Rosenblum landed in Normandy, was present at the liberation of Dachau, and won military decorations. After the war he continued his photographic journey, chronicling the life of little people in the big city, in East Harlem and South Bronx.
For many visitors in Yekaterinberg, this “backstage” view of New York was a revelation.
Leipzig worked as a photojournalist with New York’s leading magazines and newspapers, and for 28 years taught at Long Island University. In his photographs he transports children from Brooklyn into a fairy tale world where they meet Santa Claus or can fly.
In comparison with the likes of Rosenblum and Leipzig, a new generation of photographic artists (American, German, Italian and Russian) at times lack humanity. Using the most varied technology, from film cameras to mobile phones, they try to convey their inner feelings, at times with insufficient clarity.
The exhibition has been put together by the Yekaterinburg Photographic Museum with support from the US consul-general in Yekaterinburg, and has been well-received.
It’s no surprise that one of the first entries in the comment book says, “Yes! New York feels closer.”
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