artist / participant
P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center announces the extension of Rudy Burckhardt: A View From Astoria, an exhibition of photographs by the late Swiss artist. When Rudy Burckhardt (1914–1999) moved to New York from his native Basel in 1935 at the age of twenty-one, he was already an accomplished photographer. Upon his arrival in New York, Burckhardt was overwhelmed by the city’s scale, and it took him a few years to be able to combine people and entire buildings in the same photograph. At first, he focused on architectural features and people rushing through the streets of midtown Manhattan. He delighted in details of clothing and signage, often fragmenting his subjects. His formal concerns—the play of light and shadow, the relation of part to whole—were always contained within a picture of humanity’s daily efforts.
In the 1940s, he began exploring Queens, where he enjoyed the “frontier look” of undeveloped areas and empty streets. He was drawn to locales that were not considered beautiful or important, and there he would find an auspicious image which he would present in its most intimate, essential aspect. He worked at attaining unusual perspectives on the city, scaling high buildings to photographing the Flatiron Building or Astor Place, or glimpsing at Manhattan’s grandeur through a Brooklyn window or from Astoria, where blocky waterfront structures and an ample foreground make odd shapes in front of the famous skyline.
Burckhardt, whose work included film, painting, and photography, was a familiar, loved and respected member of the cultural community.
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A View From Astoria