New York Photo Review
from the NYPR Archives

Making Caribbean Dance by Susanna Sloat
The Genetic Wars by Barbara Confino
Soho Photo Gallery
Central Booking Magazine

The Uptown Scene
Alan Behr
Naked at the Ball
Ed Barnas
Alan Behr, “Party at Judith Ripka, “ 2006

Alan Behr is a member of the scene he documents. A lawyer and writer as well as photographer, he is an invited guest at the balls, benefits and other events he has documented in black and white on the walls of the Oscar Barnack Room at the Leica Gallery. And as a guest, he did not feel the need to ask permission before taking these photos over the past decade. In contrast to more close-up images by wowe in the “Nightclubbing” exhibit in the main space at the Leica Gallery, these images appear taken at a greater distance, often offering full-length views of their subjects. The people are in formal attire– the men in tuxes or tails as opposed to the 80’s suits and ties in the wowe images (“Twins, Preview Night 2010” stands out in its informality).

The title of the exhibit refers to a photo of the same name showing a back view of a gilded male nude to whom a properly attired young woman is speaking. There is one other male nude, shown again from the rear, as part of the atmosphere in “Book Party, 2009.” Although there is a view of a backless gown that dips tantalizingly low (“After Party, 2008”), none of the guests are naked.

These photos have an unposed, snapshot feel and most appear to be taken without flash in well-lit rooms. While some notice Behr taking photos, most don’t, as he is a part of this elite. They look off to the side or are involved in their own conversations (“Opera Ball, Waldorf Astoria, 2000).

Several images capture the elegance (the curved back and swirling dress in “Swing Dancing, Grand Ballroom, 2009,” the slow-shutter blur of gowns and tails in “Dancing, Waldorf Astoria, 2010); others highlight odd juxtapositions in the frame. In “Cheek Kiss, Tiffany & Company 2010” a woman on the left edge of the frame seems to talk aside to someone outside the frame while two women on the right air kiss, and in “Party at Judith Ripka, 2006” a woman intently reads a copy of Social Life while her male companion stares straight ahead. One captures the boredom (“Diner, the Plaza, 2009”) while another captures the humor (a virtual butt-grab in “Artist, Sonnabend Gallery, 1991”).

Despite the different decades, these twenty-five uptown images present a nice contrast to the downtown images by wowe in the rest of the Leica Gallery and highlight the cultural divide of the two groups.

Alan Behr
Naked at the Ball


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The Genetic Wars by Barbara Confino
Making Caribbean Dance by Susanna Sloat
Central Booking Magazine
Soho Photo Gallery