Lee Friedlander (American, born Aberdeen, Washington, 1934)
ca. 1912, printed 1980s–1990s
Gelatin silver print from glass negative
Sheet: 10 × 8 in. (25.4 × 20.3 cm)
Purchase, Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation and Alfred Stieglitz Society Gifts, 2013
Not on view
In 1896 New Orleans’s alderman Sidney Story attempted to manage the city’s rampant prostitution by creating a legally protected red-light district that became known as Storyville. Bellocq’s portraits of the district’s working-class women were virtually forgotten until the 1960s. Many of the negatives were heavily scratched, obscuring the womens’s faces, as seen here. Often, the act of removing a figure from a photograph is an attempt to erase that person from memory through literal defacement. In New Orleans, however, hidden identities, masks, and costumes play an important role in carnival celebrations, when society’s class and moral constraints are traditionally loosened. Was someone merely trying to protect this model’s anonymity, or are the scratches a trace of a more complex story?
Inscription: Printer's stamp in black ink on print, verso C: "PHOTOGRAPH BY E. J. BELLOCQ // New Orleans Circa 1911 - 13 // COLLECTION LEE FRIEDLANDER // This print was made by Lee Friedlander on gold // toned P. O. P. This photograph is not released for // publication or for commercial use of any kind. // For permission communicate with Lee Friedlander, // 44 So. Mountain Road, New City, N. Y. 10956" [Lee Friedlander's signature over stamp in pencil]; inscribed in pencil on print, verso BL: "45"; dealer's inventory number inscribed in pencil on print, verso: BR: "EJB0809.Y(ooo)"
Lee Friedlander; [Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco]
The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Johnson Gallery, Selections from the Collection 65".