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New York City Up And Down In The Early 1980s

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Frank Horvat

In the 1980s, Frank Horvat was living in New York City. The photographer, whose mesmerising pictures of racy Paris 1950s’ nightlife we have featured on flashbak, was looking at a city in transition. Named New York Up & Down, Horvat’s series of nostalgia-proof color photos also reveal a love for New York as a subject. As he says:

“New York is the only city in the world that I know of where 10 million people can be cramped in the same space and not fight too much with each other, and get along sort of nicely. It’s a melting pot and a superb urban experiment.”

In this bustling Petri Dish, people and things collide and pass-by without noticing one another. Horvat watches for juxtaposition. His pictures possess the speed and agility of a guileless snapshot quality as his camera is raised and fired. This light touch is deceptively simple. The skill is how Horvak manages to see so and do in a flash. The subjects are framed and the color film, so often devoid of abstraction, lets in density and radiance. The results are stella. And every picture seems to say, ‘Only in New York City’.

 

New York City Frank Horvat

1980, New York City, downtown

New York City

Sixth Avenue. A dark-haired woman rushes towards me, her hair lifted by a back draft, like Medusa’s serpents. I see her in the viewfinder, for a fraction of a second. But did I press the shutter at right moment? With the right frame, the right focus, the right speed? – Frank Horvat’s diary, 9th February 1983.

 

New York City Frank Horvat

1982, New York, subway, at rush hour

 

New York City Frank Horvat

1982, New York, drug addict

 

The highs and lows of New York City are not just the transitions from Uptown to Downtown, from the darkness of the subway to the view from the top floors of the sky-scrapers, from the temperatures of January to those of July. But also the shifts, from one day to the other and sometimes from one minute to the next, between exaltation and disappointment, triumph and failure, fulfillment and defeat – Frank Horvat’s autobiography, 2010.

 

1982, New York, city library

1982, New York, city library

New York City Frank Horvat

1983, New York, subway

New York City Frank Horvat

1983, New York

1983, New York, rain in Central Park

1983, New York, rain in Central Park

New York City Frank Horvat

1983, New York, taxi

New York City Frank Horvat

1983, New York, disabled man

1983, New York, coffers

1983, New York, coffers

New York City Frank Horvat

1983, New York, woman with plastic bags

1983, New York, Coney Island, aquarium

1983, New York, Coney Island, aquarium

New York City Frank Horvat

1983, New York, cigarette ad

New York City Frank Horvat

1983, New York, painting shop

New York City Frank Horvat

1983, New York, marquee

New York City Frank Horvat

1983, New York, sealed up building

New York City Frank Horvat

1983, New York, stains on the asphalt

New York City Frank Horvat

1983, New York, reflections (a)

1983, New York, graffiti in the subway

1983, New York, graffiti in the subway

New York City Frank Horvat

1983, New York, steam jet

New York City Frank Horvat

1983, New York, subway station, uptown

New York City Frank Horvat

1983, New York, Central Park, trompe l’oeil

New York City Frank Horvat

1983, New York, lamp-post in the snow storm

New York City Frank Horvat

1983, New York, wall and pigeons

New York City Frank Horvat

1983, New York, Greenwich Village

Spotter: Horvatland