Born in Brooklyn, Gottfried spent much of her childhood living in Coney Island before moving with her family to Crown Heights, an area with a strong Puerto Rican community. She grew up in these humbler neighbourhoods of New York City and their vibrant communities remained a lifelong source of inspiration in her work. She studied photography courses at The Fashion Institute of Technology in New York, before working as a freelance photographer. Over her career, her work has featured in publications such as The New York Times, The Village Voice, Fortune and Life, but it is her five published books for which she is best known, with her most recent book, Mommie, being named as one of TIME Magazine’s Best Photobooks of 2016.
Much of her work focusses on the culturally diverse communities within New York’s poorer areas, she recorded the daily lives of local characters within these communities with an intimate and dignified consideration. While much of street photography chooses to depict the extremes that can be found in the seedy underbelly of a city, Gottfried’s style was much more delicate and personal. Lending her portraits, whether of family members or of strangers, an emotional connection that goes beyond mere documentation. For her second book, Midnight, she photographed, over the course of 20 years, a former convict and club dancer known as “Midnight”, following his decline into mental illness in a sequence of photographs that reveals not only the journey of a life, but also Gottfried’s profound connection to her subjects. Her book, Bacalaitos & Fireworks, published in 2011 is an homage to the city she grew up in, the communities she became close to and is an unadorned, sincere and caring look at the realities of Puerto Rican life in the Lower East Side and Spanish Harlem.
The exhibition at the TASCHEN Gallery will present a collection of work representative of Arlene Gottfried´s prolific career as a street photographer ‚for the people‘, including a number of new works that will be on display for the very first time. All of the photographs displayed are either silver gelatine prints (black and white) or cibachrome prints (colour).
Over the course of her career, spanning four decades, Arlene Gottfried lovingly photographed the city that she was a part of and it’s inhabitants, to whom she belonged. Her images are emotionally charged, they depict both the unusual and the ordinary but most of all they are both touching and genuine.
In additional rooms the Galerie Bene Taschen will also present a collection of works from Gregory Bojorquez, Jeff Mermelstein and Joseph Rodriguez.