New York by Lee Friedlander (c. 1963)

The photograph titled “New York” was taken by artist Lee Friedlander, approximately in the year 1963. It captures a street scene that includes various elements and characters that likely convey the complexity and layered nature of urban life during that time.

In the image, the scene unfolds on a sunlit street. To the left, a man is lying on the sidewalk, seemingly asleep or incapacitated. He is dressed casually, with a lightweight jacket and pants, and his arms are akimbo while one leg is crossed over the other, creating a sense of casual repose despite the incongruity of his position on the ground. Behind him, we can see a shop window displaying an advertisement for a sale and an assortment of goods placed to catch the eye of passersby.

The rest of the photograph is animated by the movement of people and the play of light and shadow. In the foreground and off to the side, a woman with a bag over her shoulder walks away from the viewer, caught in the moment by the camera – her motion contrasts with the stillness of the man on the ground. Meanwhile, a second individual, a man in a light-colored suit, is also captured in mid-stride as he moves toward the right of the frame, seemingly oblivious to the man lying on the sidewalk.

Both pedestrians are sharply dressed, suggesting the normal hustle and bustle of life in New York, which contrasts starkly with the figure on the ground. The sun casts strong shadows on the pavement, dividing the scene and adding to the depth of the composition. The image presents a powerful juxtaposition of vitality and vulnerability, emblematic of the diverse experiences that converge in a bustling city environment.

Other Photographs from Lee Friedlander

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