Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Edmund Vincent Gillon's New York

Not long ago, I chanced upon an online gallery featuring a great banquet of exceptionally fine New York street scenes by photographer Edmund Vincent Gillon, Jr, who died in 2008.   The photographs, housed at the Museum of the City of New York, date mostly to the 1970s and 80s.  Judging by their content, Mr. Gillon seems to have been drawn to the grand, the quirky, the ephemeral.  New York in those years must have been a wonderland for him.

From top: Schapiro's Kosher Wines, 143 Rivington St; Ratner's, 138 Delancey; Streit's Matzos, 148 (?) Rivington St. (Edmund Vincent Gillon / MCNY)

Says the Museum of the Gillon gallery:  "His photographs bring to life not only the countless readily apparent changes that have taken place in the city's urban landscape over the past several decades, but also the many subtle changes that transformed neighborhoods such as SoHo, Tribeca, and Dumbo as they transitioned, building by building, from gritty wastelands into the vibrant urban oases they have become."

From top: Loew's Delancey, 140 Delancey St; The Star Cafe, 167 West 23rd Street. (Edmund Vincent Gillon / MCNY)

Old neon signs - already old, even then, forty-odd years ago - often haunt the backdrop of Mr. Gillon's street scenes, as seen in the images excerpted here.  Like so much of what one finds in these photographs, all of the signs in this selection of photos are gone today.  Perusing the online gallery, I find that the photographs pose more questions than they answer.  With interests in the quirky and the ephemeral, where, I wonder, would a young Mr. Gillon point his lense in the city today?  

From top: Variety Theatre, 110 Third Ave.; Automat et al, East 14th Street, north side near Irving Place. (Edmund Vincent Gillon / MCNY)

The MCNY's gallery of photographs by Edmund Vincent Gillon Jr can be viewed online here.


Edmund Gillon Jr's photographs are featured in a number of books published in the heyday of Dover Publications.  Some of these include "Cast-iron Architecture in New York: a Photographic Survey" (1974); "New York Then and Now: 83 Manhattan Sites Photographed in the Past and the Present" (1976); "South Street : a Photographic Guide to New York City's Historic Seaport" (1977); "The Lower East Side : a Guide to its Jewish Past" (1979); "Provincetown Discovered : the Fishing Village Where The Pilgrims First Landed" (1986); "Beaux-Arts Architecture in New York : a Photographic Guide" (1988); and "The Great Sights of New York : A Photographic Guide" (1991).


 Thursday, April 20, 2017
 May date TBD

Mark your calendars!  Tickets will be available at this link.