Bill Cunningham, the original street style photographer
From March 14 to June 15, 2014, the New-York Historical Society presents “Bill Cunningham: Facades” a series of pictures created in the 70s that simultaneously documents New York City architecture and fashion history.
“The exhibition will offer a unique perspective on both the city’s distant past and the particular time in which the images were created,” the New-York Historical Society explains, “examining Cunningham’s project as part of the larger cultural zeitgeist in late 1960s-70s New York City, an era when historic preservation and urban issues loomed large.”
Bill Cunningham is the original street style photographer. Born in 1929, his sinuous career led him to become s fashion photographer, an iconic figure of New-York City. For almost 60 years now, Bill Cunningham has documented street life and fashion. He still works for the New York Times.
The 80 images that will be on show at the New-York Historical Society, herald from a photographic essay entitled Facades realised by Cunningham between 1968 and 1976. Cunningham donated the New-York Historical Society, 88 gelatin silver prints from Facades in 1976. For this project, Bill Cunningham gathered a vast collection of garments and costumes found in thrift stores. At the same time he explored the city on his bicycle, looking for suitable shoot locations.
In addition to their historical value, these images show intelligent pairing of models, costumes and shoot locations. One model often featured by Cunningham is fellow photographer Editta Sherman, also known as the duchess of Carnegie Hall, who passed away in November 2013, aged 101.
In the 1970s New York City experienced two divergent realities. The city financial crisis affected people daily existence, infrastructures collapsed, garbage piled up and crime was rife. At the same time the city saw a burst of creativity with many artists researching new forms of expression.
Louise Mirrer, President of the New-York Historical Society said: “We are thrilled to feature these important photographs by New York Times photographer Bill Cunningham, who captured an uncertain moment in our city’s history, when New York seemed on the brink of losing its place of privilege as a capital of the world. Cunningham’s vivid sense of New York’s illustrious past and his unfettered optimism about its future make the photographs among the most dramatic and important documentation of the city’s social history.”