By William Carter

Photographer, Author, Jazz Musician

Fleeting Treasures

with 2 comments


By William Carter

I arrived in New York City in the summer of 1962. Toting two Leicas, I hunted for a job and an apartment. I gravitated to a part of the Lower East Side which was later re-christened the East Village.

Since I had begun my career in California doing informal photographs of children, my first self-assignment was to extend that practice to these fresh surroundings. I spent a day with a couple of kids at Coney Island. I traversed dim wells behind tenements that served as de facto playgrounds. I dropped in on friends of friends living with their daughter in an artistic shack on Staten Island.

Half a century later, those freshly seen scenes keyed off my retrospective book, Causes and Spirits. Below are examples, plus a couple of images omitted from the book. I only met the Staten Island girl for a few minutes, but she graces the book’s front cover, and the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. has requested the vintage original print. But what happened to that girl? By now she would be around 60.

The subsequent lives of the other kids remain just as mysterious. As I mentioned in an earlier blog, photography resembles jazz in that both art forms – like modern life in general – often express moments that are the most pungent when they are the most fleeting.

William Carter papers, © Stanford University Libraries. Click here for a detailed usage guide.

Staten Island, New York, 1962

Staten Island, New York, 1962, Causes & Spirits, jacket & pg. 29

Coney Island, New York, 1962

Coney Island, New York, 1962, Causes and Spirits, page 39

Lower East Side, New York, 1963

Lower East Side, New York, 1963, Causes and Spirits, page 31

Lower East Side, New York, 1963

Lower East Side, New York, 1963, Causes and Spirits, page 33

Lower East Side, New York, 1963

Lower East Side, New York, 1963. This photograph and the one below were made within moments of the one above.

Lower East Side, New York, 1963

Lower East Side, New York, 1963

 

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Written by bywilliamcarter

August 17, 2016 at 3:10 pm

2 Responses

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  1. Great visual ethnography by one of the best.

    Like

    bill delaney

    May 18, 2012 at 5:15 am

  2. Love these pics of NYC in the early ’60s…I moved there from California in the late 50’s and these photos bring back a lot of memories. Especially like your photo of the 6 children climbing the crumbling brick facade of the lower east side tenement–absolutely brilliant how you managed to capture and preserve in perpetuity their fleeting, unfettered, ballet of movement in time and space. Your are the best.

    Like

    Pat Dowling

    May 17, 2012 at 10:18 pm


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