Children playing in ruins or in clunkers, in a part of New York City that looks like an european distric after the World War II… This is the work of Martha Cooper in her serie called “Street Play”.

M. Cooper - Street Play serie

Since the 1970s, Martha Cooper has documented children playing in the Lower Eastside which, at the time, was a wasteland full of vacant lots. Many of her photographs were taken in the Alphabet City area, (between the Avenues A, B, C and D) where children found perfect playgrounds with plenty of open spaces and raw materials, like others have fun in the wood…
While depicting the creativity and innocence of children making the best of their environment, “Street Play” also gives an account of a promiscuous city which has been quickly forgotten after the distric became trendy and beloved by artists. Here some of the pictures I found on the web:

Martha Cooper’s photographs have appeared in National Geographic, Smithsonian and Natural History Magazines. Born in the 1940s in Baltimore, she lives and works in NYC.


In 1969, when awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship made to photograph “the effect of media on events“, Garry Winogrand started what he called later the “Public Relations” serie, an outcome of his fascination for rituals of a society eager for publicity.

Election campaigns, press conferences, rallies and strikes, museum openings, receptions in New York City: his pictures depicte every aspect of public or private events created to be documented, capturing with a wide-angle lens camera as much “informations” as possible. This aesthetical approach made him belong to experimental photography of the 60’s-70’s, forgetting about the frame and close-ups as if one single picture could sum up the whole event itself.

With this serie, the photographer documented the emerging hype of a society celebrating itself by the presence of the medias, phenomenon that was soon going to increase. But since then, the reports of public celebrations may have lost this initial excitement, aesthetic and narrative potential that Winogrand managed to capture in the 1970s on his 28mm films.

The “Public Relations” serie was first published to accompany a 1977 exhibition at The Museum of Modern Art, New York, with an essay by Tod Papageorge. Garry Winogrand, born in 1928 in NYC, died in in 1984 in Mexico.

William Eggleston stands, with Stephen Shore, as one of the first photographer who found a way to museums with color photographs. This month, Steidl celebrate the master by presenting unseen color pictures with a 3 volumes new book tracing every steps in Eggleston’s carrier.

William Eggleston - Untitled
William Eggleston – Untitled

In the mid-seventies, to organise the very first exhibition of color photographs from Eggleston at the Museum Of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York, the curator J. Szarkowski made a selection of 48 pictures in the artist’s archive. The selected photographs became famous (not to say legendary) with their publication in the catalogue titled “William Eggleston’s Guide”. But few people knew that they were part of a big archive which remained, untill today, unpublished.

Unlike the colour negative film-pictures which were for example published in the book Los Alamos (in 2003), those 5,000 transparencies remaind indeed unseen and stocked in a safe. From 1969 to 1974, Eggleston had worked with transparency stock, like Kodachrome, Ektachrome or Agfachrome and, after the exhibition at the MoMA, he let the rest of his archive remaind at the Eggleston Artistic Trust in Memphis, Tennessee. Chromes presents 364 of those “never-seen” photographs, from the early Memphis imagery, colour tests and compositional strategies, and the development towards the ‘poetic snapshot’. From Agfa to Koda, all this chromes put together unable to trace the gradual steps by which the photographer transformed from an unknown into a leading artist.

“Chromes” by Steidl, 3 volumes, 728 pages, 364 colour plates, €248.00

More about J. Szarkowski and William Eggleston on Wayne Ford’s blog

Credits: William Eggleston / Steidl – All rights reserved.

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