Arlene Gottfried, l'insouciance d'une époque

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Arlene Gottfried
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Arlene Gottfried (© Arlene Gottfried / Courtesy Les Douches la Galerie)
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© Arlene Gottfried / Courtesy Les Douches la Galerie
Brazilian Carnival, Waldorf-Astoria, 1979
Arlene Gottfried (© Arlene Gottfried / Courtesy Les Douches la Galerie)
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© Arlene Gottfried / Courtesy Les Douches la Galerie
Jewish bodybuilder and Hassid, 1980
Arlene Gottfried (© Arlene Gottfried / Courtesy Les Douches la Galerie)
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© Arlene Gottfried / Courtesy Les Douches la Galerie
Woman wearing Sneakers, Coney Island, 1976
Arlene Gottfried (© Arlene Gottfried / Courtesy Les Douches la Galerie)
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© Arlene Gottfried / Courtesy Les Douches la Galerie
Wolverine Camper, 1979
Arlene Gottfried (© Arlene Gottfried / Courtesy Les Douches la Galerie)
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© Arlene Gottfried / Courtesy Les Douches la Galerie
Family on Riis Beach, 1980
Arlene Gottfried (© Arlene Gottfried / Courtesy Les Douches la Galerie)
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© Arlene Gottfried / Courtesy Les Douches la Galerie
Mommie drinking coffee on apartment balcony, 1984
Arlene Gottfried (© Arlene Gottfried / Courtesy Les Douches la Galerie)
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© Arlene Gottfried / Courtesy Les Douches la Galerie
Tim Fine, his mother and her poodle, 1976

An American photographer shows a diverse side of New York in its laid-back ’70s and ’80s prime.

Arlene Gottfried's warm and cheerful photographs of ’70s and ’80s New York are suffused with nostalgia for those easy-going decades. She shows the Big Apple at its most diverse and colourful, a true social mosaic in which communities mix happily on Riis Park Beach, bodybuilders sitting next to Orthodox Jews or grandmothers next to hunky young men in their underpants (‘Angel and Woman on Boardwalk’).

Very much at ease with themselves, most of Gottfried’s posed subjects stare fixedly into the lens, as in the image of two androgynous brothers walking along Coney Island. One of them, in high, pleated trousers and balancing a toothpick between his lips, cuts a figure half way between John Wayne and Grace Jones, challenging onlookers in their preconceptions. It was a city in which liberty, sexual freedom and a certain casual indifference had hit a high, while the AIDS crisis lurked just around the corner. Often ominous in this regard, much of the photographer’s work affects the spectator through its stark emotional simplicity, like her loving family portraits, or the elusive shot of a woman’s face half concealed by a palm leaf.

TRANSLATION: HUW OLIVER

By: Clotilde Gaillard

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