New York Photo Review
Volume 2 Issue 36 October 18 to 24, 2011

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

Yes, The New Yorker

Beyond Words: Photography in the New Yorker
Malcolm X by Richard Avedon. Source: howardgreenberg.com
Richard Avedon, "Malcolm X"

Once upon a time, back in the 20th century, the venerable New Yorker magazine ran a well-executed advertising campaign with the tag line, “The New Yorker, Yes, The New Yorker.” The objective was simple enough: demonstrate to its audience that the New Yorker had some real editorial surprises in store. Fast forward to 2011 and browse the widely appealing season opener at Howard Greenberg. Even if you’re a regular reader, you’ll most likely be surprised or pleasantly reminded by the depth and breadth of fine photography that has appeared in the New Yorker (yes, the New Yorker) since 1992 when Tina Brown became its editorial director. Under Brown, the magazine began using photographs to illustrate its articles; a 1963 photograph of Malcolm X became the first Avedon to be published in the magazine – an event that must have been immensely satisfying to Avedon since he was the only staff photographer at the time. In 1996, Brown then gave Elizabeth Biondi (who curated this exhibition) the job of expanding the New Yorker’s use of photography. Biondi developed a solid line-up of staff photographers that included Ruven Afanador, Mary Ellen Mark, Gilles Peress, and Martin Schoeller to name a few. Their work is all well represented in this exhibition of 61 images, which also includes photographs by Irving Penn, William Klein, Harry Benson, and Duane Michals among others.

Dame Agatha Christie by Lord Snowdon. Source: howardgreenberg.com
Lord Snowdon, "Dame Agatha Christie"

Also included is a historical section of work from the former Soviet Union as well as Horst P. Horst, Robert Doisneau, the Time-Life Archive, Lord Snowdon and others. On display in the back gallery is another part of the exhibition called “Goings on About Town”– ten color images, including work of Sylvia Plachy, Brian Finke, Martine Fougeron from the magazine’s front section.

There’s much to like in “Beyond Words” and with the work of at least 50 accomplished photographers on display, choosing favorites is a challenge. What I liked most were all the “surprises,” meaning work that I had never seen before or wasn’t aware had first appeared in the New Yorker. Among them, in no particular order, was a November 2000 black and white image of the Twin Towers by Sheila Metzner published in 2002. I liked an image from Platon’s 2008 “Service” portfolio showing a mother at her son’s grave. A real surprise, amusing to say the least, was a 1997 portrait by Max Vadukul of Donald Trump (yes, Donald Trump) jumping a la Philippe Halsmann. Sadly, there was an evocative portrait of Amy Winehouse taken in 2007 by Harry Benson; she’s sitting in bed with a cigarette between her lips. I also liked Robert Doisneau’s 1949 portrait of Jacques Tati standing behind the various parts of a bicycle laid out on the ground. And for a change of pace, I enjoyed Sylvia Plachy’s work from “Goings on About Town” and other photographers in that section.

All in all, “Beyond Words” is a thoughtful, instructive, but necessarily limited survey of photography that reminds us why one good picture can indeed be worth 1,000 words–or more.


Beyond Words: Photography in the New Yorker
Curator: Elizabeth Biondi

Howard Greenberg
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212 334 0010
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Wednesday, September 14 to
Saturday, October 22, 2011
Hours: Tues - Sat, 10 to 6
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The Genetic Wars by Barbara Confino
Making Caribbean Dance by Susanna Sloat
Central Booking Magazine
Soho Photo Gallery