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Look | London, NYC Streetscapes on Display in Photo Exhibit

Friday, July 27, 2012

(Courtesy of the Museum of the City of New York)

It's a tale of two cities told 1,000 words at a time.

As the Olympics kick off in London on Friday, a photo exhibit opening in New York City aims to draw parallels between the cities with arresting street photography from the past century.

More than 138 images from dozens of London street photographers will be paired with 40 images of New York at the Museum of the City of New York as part of an exhibit that showcases the similarities between the cities.

“It really sets up a dialogue between the two places and a chance to understand the medium and what it can tell us about these two places,” said Sara Henry, deputy director and chief curator at the Museum of the City of New York.

The exhibit features Terry Spencer’s 1969 photo “On the steps of Eros, Piccadilly Circus,” with a gang in jeans and suspenders strutting through the square (photo below).

Also included are playful images like David Gibson’s 2008 shot of a man walking down the street with a black umbrella, seemingly trailed by a spray painted grey cloud in the background.

New York photographer Jacob Riis and London photographer Paul Martin, both on display, shared a similar photographic language exploring the lives of everyday people and the poor.

“It’s really about people and how people use urban space and encounter each other in urban space, and ignore each other in urban space, and how their character shines through in these public spaces,” Henry said.

In New York, it is legal to photograph people without their expressed consent, but this was not always the case in London, according to Natan Dvir, an Israeli photographer who teaches street and documentary photography at the International Center of Photography in New York.

While New York and Paris are the major photographic centers, Dvir said London has produced many ambiguous and personal images as well.

“We’re talking about two major urban centers -- some of the most important in the world -- so obviously they’re an attraction for photographers,” Dvir said. “Definitely going to see some parallel lives, but also a lot of differences.”

The exhibit runs until December 2.

Courtesy of the Museum of the City of New York

Jerome Liebling (b. 1924) Outside Claridge’s Hotel, Mayfair, 1967 Jerome Liebling, courtesy Museum of London

Courtesy of the Museum of the City of New York

Saul Leiter, Harlem, 1960, Courtesy of the Artist and Howard Greenberg Gallery.

Courtesy of the Museum of the City of New York

Paul Strand, Wall Street, 1915, Courtesy of the Museum of the City of New York, Private collection.

Courtesy of the Museum of the City of New York

Mimi Mollica (b.1975)

Homeless, 1997 Mimi Mollica/courtesy Museum of London

Courtesy of the Museum of the City of New York

Peter Marshall (b.1945) Shopkeeper outside a grocery shop, Hessel Street, Whitechapel, 1991 Peter Marshall/ Courtesy Museum of London

Courtesy of the Museum of the City of New York

Joel Meyerowitz, West 46th Street, NYC, 1976,

Courtesy of the Artist and Howard Greenberg Gallery.

Roger Mayne (b.1929) Boys playing football in Brindley Road, Paddington, 1959 © Roger Mayne / Courtesy Museum of London
Courtesy of the Museum of the City of New York

Roger Mayne (b.1929) Boys playing football in Brindley Road, Paddington, 1959 © Roger Mayne / Courtesy Museum of London

Courtesy of the Museum of the City of New York

Terry Spencer (1918–2009) On the steps of Eros, Piccadilly Circus, 1969 Cara Spencer, courtesy Museum of London

Paul Martin (1864–1944) A porter at Billingsgate Market, 1893 © Estate of Paul Martin, Museum of London
Courtesy of the Museum of the City of New York

Paul Martin (1864–1944) A porter at Billingsgate Market, 1893 Estate of Paul Martin, Museum of London

Orville Robertson, Broadway near Spring Street, 1989, Museum of the City of New York. Gift of the photographer.
Courtesy of the Museum of the City of New York

Orville Robertson, Broadway near Spring Street, 1989, Museum of the City of New York. Gift of the photographer.

Courtesy of the Museum of the City of New York

John Albok, Boy reading comics in front of newspaper store, west side of Madison Avenue between 96th and 97th Streets, Museum of the City of New York. Gift of Illona Albok Parker.

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