Arthur Leipzig, Photographer

NYC has lost one of its greats – Arthur Leipzig, photographer. So many of the classic shots of NYC are his – kids playing stickball, the opening night at the opera, sunbathers at Coney Island. He was 96.

Mr. Leipzig’s 1943 photograph “King of the Hill” — in which two Brooklyn boys square off atop a mound of dirt — was chosen by Edward Steichen, director of the Museum of Modern Art’s photography department, for his celebrated “Family of Man” exhibition of 1955. The show’s theme was the universality of human experience.

To look at these pictures today is to catch intimations of the evanescence of both youth and a city. In his 1995 book, “Growing Up in New York,” Mr. Leipzig called himself “witness to a time that no longer exists, a more innocent time.”

“We believed in hope,” he wrote.

These are two of my favorites, but there’s more and more and more.

Rheims With Gender

I really am not sure what to think of this project. The idea was to photograph genders, as she did in the 80s, but somewhere along the way she discovered a few people who were genderqueer or trans*.

I love the idea but I also feel a little squeamish about the description of the project.

I think I’d prefer to hear their voices talking about how they live in their bodies and genders, and what they think of both.


Trans Model in French Vogue

I had a friend do a translation of the text that accompanies the photo:

Lea, Born Again.

New top model alert: in this fall’s Givenchy campaign, Lea is standing, in feathers, close to Mariacarla, Malgosia and Joan Smalls.  With hollow cheeks and faded eyebrows, she exudes a beauty that is regal, detached, retro, and androgynous, something between Greta Garbo and Candy Darling.  Lea T., the sensation of fall 2010, is the new star of the agency Women.  A woman to be [or possibly “a woman in the process of becoming”], born Leo, she decided to tame life in high heels.  Originally from Belo Horizonte, she grew up a well-educated boy in both Brazil and Italy, in a respected Catholic family.  With two sisters and a brother, Leo was destined for a career in veterinary medicine, up to the day when Lea appeared:  “I met Riccardo Tisci, who had just come out of Central Saint Martins (College of Art and Design).  Little by little, we became friends.  And, one night, he encouraged me to wear high heels to a party.  We went to buy drag queen shoes and also bleached my eyebrows.  It was a revelation.”  Lea followed her pygmalion/mentor to Givenchy in Paris and worked there as his assistant, confidante, and fitting model for two seasons.  Back in Milan, she decided to start her physical metamorphosis, a treatment that was met with public prejudice and immense familial unease.  “It was like a war inside my head,” she says.  From Paris, Riccardo followed the ups and downs of the change.  He offered help and “one day, he called to ask me to pose for a Mert & Marcus ad.”  Lea accepted in the name of all her transsexual friends, a standard bearer for their cause, and “especially proud of her friendship with Riccardo.”  Since that ad campaign, casting and interview offers rain on Piero Piazzi, Lea’s agent at Women, “another of my guardian angels.”  Lea, with disarming simplicity, explains that she is waiting for the definitive intervention that will liberate her femininity, “as soon as the papers are finalized.”  She is open to her future, be it on the runway, or perhaps in the fashion studio/workshop, or back home, her true birthplace, Brazil.

I think it’s cool, & I’m glad she did it, though I know some of you are burnt out on people using trans bodies as this week’s shock factor. I don’t think this one is doing that, even though it’s confrontational because she’s looking right at you, the viewer. It’s impossible not to see her as a person (unless you’re the kind of person who dehumanizes any naked woman). Thoughts?


Henri Cartier-Bresson died in 2004, and for the first time since then, MoMA has launched a retrospective of his work. There are slide shows on both MoMA’s site & on CNN, where I found this info, via Fareed Zakaria (whose show I love, as it’s one of the only shows that is actually international in perspective, as opposed to being Here’s some stuff abotu some other countries, now back to the US, true center of the universe).

I’m sorely tempted to get to NYC before it ends in late June in order to see it. Here are a few of my favorites:

LGBT Athletes & Soldiers

I missed it, & maybe you did too, but here’s Jeff Sheng’s Fearless photography series, which is a collection of photos of out LGBT athletes.
I discovered it via The LA Times’ blog and Sheng’s new series called Don’t Ask Don’t Tell.
= Amazing work.

What amazes me particularly about the first set is how images of LGBT people tends to focus on white people in particular, & then too on men. Gathering their photos based on this other part of their identity – their atheleticism – gives a much larger range of racial & ethnic identity, & a much larger range of genders, too.