Realist photo gallery Galerie Bene Taschen in Cologne, Germany hosts a major European retrospective for New York photographer Arlene Gottfried.
Arlene Gottfried, whose dramatic photographs captured the beauty and diversity of New Yorker’s in their everyday life, was known to roam the inner city streets shooting portraits of residents in their natural urban environment whether they be transgender, Jewish bodybuilders or children dressed up for Halloween.
Arlene Harriet’s Past
Arlene Harriet Gottfried was born on Aug. 26, 1950, in Brooklyn. She spent her early childhood in Coney Island, living above the hardware store that her father, Max, ran with his brother. Her mother, the former Lillian Zimmerman, was a homemaker. When Arlene was 9 the family moved to Crown Heights, whose growing Puerto Rican population captured her imagination.
She received her first camera, a vintage 35mm, from her father in her teens. Accounts about Arlene’s first works include photos she took at Woodstock with the same camera.
Arlene Gottfried the Photo journalist
Arlene began to receive critical acclaim for her photography in the 70s and 80s. She worked as a photographer for an advertising agency before freelancing for publications such as The New York Times Magazine, Fortune, Life, the Village Voice, and The Independent (London (UK)).
But it wasn’t until after she published the photo book “Bacalaitos & Fireworks” (2011), that Gottfried began exhibiting in contemporary galleries in France and Germany. “Bacalaitos & Fireworks” is an unvarnished but loving look at Puerto Rican life on the Lower East Side and in Spanish Harlem.
Arlene Gottfried’s Charisma
The New York Times describes Gottfried’s relationship with her photo subjects as a genuine and shared intimacy saying “Ms. Gottfried’s subjects were never specimens, held up for cold examination. She was part documentarian, part social worker, a warm and sometimes lingering presence in the lives she recorded.”
Gottfried credited her upbringing for giving her the ability to get intimate photographs of strangers: “We lived in Coney Island, and that was always an exposure to all kinds of people, so I never had trouble walking up to people and asking them to take their picture.”
In an interview with the New York times she described her experience photographing New Yorker’s saying, “It was a mixture of excitement, devastation and drug use,” she told The New York Times in 2016, describing the scenes she recorded. “But there was more than just that. It was the people, the humanity of the situation. You had very good people there trying to make it.”
Arlene Gottfried Celebrated
New York photographer Arlene Gottfried has exhibited at Paris Photo, the Leica Gallery in New York and Tokyo, at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., and at Les Douches La Galerie in Paris. Her photographs can be found in the collections of the Brooklyn Museum of Art, The New York Public Library, and the Maison Européenne de la Photographie in Paris. She is the recipient of numerous awards, including the Berenice Abbott International Competition of Women’s Documentary.
Arlene Gottfried’s European Retrospective
When Gottfried died, she left behind fifteen thousand pictures. For Arlene Gottfried’s retrospective in Cologne the exhibition brings together photographs from the early days of her career in the 70’s to her later works in the 2000’s. The show includes both Cibachrome and Vintage Silver gelatin prints, some of which Arlene Gottfried printed herself prior to her death.
Galerie Bene Taschen
Moltkestraße 81, 50674 Cologne
Opening: Saturday, 29 June 2019, 6 – 9 pm
Duration: June 30 – July 30, 2019