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Faking It: Manipulated Photography Before Photoshop


New York, N. Y.

Louis Faurer (American, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 1916–2001 New York)

Gelatin silver print
23.1 x 31.6 cm (9 1/16 x 12 7/16 in.)
Credit Line:
Purchase, The Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation Gift, through Joyce and Robert Menschel, 1987
Accession Number:
  • Description

    Faurer was one of the best, if little known, of New York's street photographers in the 1940s and early 1950s. Working chiefly in Times Square and on 14th Street, he gathered a motley cast of unglamorous and marginal characters before his lens and juxtaposed them with the printed detritus and/or neon-flashing overload of signs in the urban environment. Here he homes in on a regular guy pausing before a window papered with information that the viewer cannot read. And though we gaze at the man seemingly undetected, the shadow over his eyes makes it unclear as to whether the camera has been spotted-lending a sense of claustrophobia and mutual suspicion to the scene. Faurer was an expert at orchestrating such scenarios-in fact, the white pointed shape in the lower left corner of the image was added in the darkroom in order to focus the effect of the mood-and it was his talent for creating psychological atmosphere and resurrecting quotidian people and places from passing obscurity that made his work so influential on later generations of artists, such as Robert Frank, Lee Friedlander, and Diane Arbus.

  • Signatures, Inscriptions, and Markings

    Inscription: Inscribed and signed in pencil on mount, verso LC: "1946 Louis Faurer"; inscribed in pencil on mount, verso LL, LR: "100.36a", "SG25"; inscribed inn orange wax pencil on mount, verso UC: "[illegible]"; inscribed in orange wax pencil on mount, verso LR [sideways]: "#3"

  • Provenance

    Sander Gallery

  • Notes

    Condition cont. evident retouching UC, C; frayed edges overall; Carol Ehlers of Ehlers/Caudill Gallery, Chicago, has a variant of this image. In Ehlers' print, there are only three white sign boards affixed to the window. In the MMA print, there are four: the addition being a sign board in the lower right corner of the image. The shape of the sign board and its sharp edges suggest that this form was added by the photographer in the print making stage by the addition of a mask layed directly upon the photographic paper. The mask covers up a reflection in the window of a white table top and metalic center piece. All the other aspects of the photograph are identical. See reproduction in file.

  • See also