Fifteen Years: The Way We WereThe Incomparable Black and White Photography of George Forss
Silver Gelatin Prints 1977-2000
The calendar says that fifteen years have passed.
Thousands of days when the sun rose and set…many moons have come and gone.
Yet, for so many New Yorkers, time stopped in one defining moment. We think of “before” and “after” the nightmare that never quite leaves our collective brainspace.
For those old enough to remember, it is a day seared in our minds.
We have survived, life did continue, but the “before” and “after” are palpable on many emotional and visual levels.
George Forss had begun recording the city in the late 1970s in classic and exquisite black and white. He had been championed by the great photographer David Douglas Duncan, and their work together resulted in the wonderful book, New York New York Masterworks of a Street Peddler.
The Access Project was conceived in 1993, when the recession of the late 80s and early 90s was finally ending. The city was changing, but it was at a reasonable pace. We had a chance to acclimate to the visual transformation with relative ease.
George collaborated with Park Slope Gallery on this new project. In short, we were able to get him access to many unusual locations from which to shoot, thus building a new body of superb New York City work.
But on September 11, 2001, the most catastrophic visual change happened. When the dust clouds settled, the skyline was diminished beyond imagination. We were unmoored. Our anchors to home were gone and the empty space in the skyline corresponded to the chasm in our hearts.
There has never been a day since that is free from some connection to September 11th. In small ways and profound ways, many aspects of our lives changed forever. Innocents…innocence…lost.
The Access Project happened to happen in the time frame just before, so it is a stunning visual record of what the city looked like up to that day. Since the Twin Towers were the tallest buildings, they made their way into many of George’s compositions.
This exhibition covers the period from 1977, when George really got started on his visual NYC journey, through 2000, when the Access Project came to a close.
These images, except for those who are very young, represent how most of us think of the city, how we still see the city in our mind’s eye. How we will always see our city.
“George Forss gives us images of extraordinary vitality. He sees with an incisive eye and haunting spirit. I have seen no photographs of recent years as strong and as perceptive.”
“I feel in these striking photographs the pulse of a sensitive eye that is not overcast by ‘concepts’.”
“Unbelievable! Great photographs of New York–This man can see!”
“Forss’ photographs are portraits that unveil the hidden face of the city, to reveal the magical innocence behind the grime–the surrealistic poetry behind the harsh reality.”
“The photographs of George Forss confirm the notion that true genius will emerge despite the greatest odds.”
“Forss’ talents are special–he captures New York, after all. I hope his book is as successful as a fine evening over our harbor.”
Our other galleries will be featuring works by Leon Bibel, covering the three major subsets of his artistic life: the WPA work of the 1930s, the wood sculpture of the 1970s, and the abstract paintings of the 1960s.