On the Street

Overview

Between 1980 and 1990, over five hundred of photographer Amy Arbus's impromptu and edgy portraits of New Yorkers appeared in the Village Voice's monthly fashion feature, "On the Street." The column's missive was to document the city's most adventurous trednsetters as they lived their lives. But Arbus's photographs tell much more than a style story. From the friendliest to the grittiest, every one of these images is a potent tribute to self-expression. Taken as a whole, they reflect an era of contradictions, a ...
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Overview

Between 1980 and 1990, over five hundred of photographer Amy Arbus's impromptu and edgy portraits of New Yorkers appeared in the Village Voice's monthly fashion feature, "On the Street." The column's missive was to document the city's most adventurous trednsetters as they lived their lives. But Arbus's photographs tell much more than a style story. From the friendliest to the grittiest, every one of these images is a potent tribute to self-expression. Taken as a whole, they reflect an era of contradictions, a time in America when urban individualism and raw creativity were courageously fighting for breathing room and holding their own in a culture ruled by wealthy conservatism and Republican politics.

For the first time since that hard-to-define decade, this time-capsule collection of images is being revisited. On the Street features seventy of the most revealing and expressive images taken by Arbus on the city’s fashion-fertile sidewalks. From the unknown to the unmistakably famous, her subjects are all equally unforgettable. Arbus’s ubiquitous lens captured the most influential style-makers, from The Clash on the set of Martin Scorsese's King of Comedy and Madonna on the same day her single “Everybody” hit the charts, to Anna Sui, Joey Arias, Phoebe Legére, and countless other local artists, actors, costume designers, shop owners, musicians, make-up artists, graffiti artists, and downtown scenesters. From eyewear to underwear and schoolgirl skirts to backless shirts; from women dressed like men to men that are barely dressed; from lipstick to just plain “schtik,” there is no aspect of 80’s style that goes unrepresented.
A. M. Homes, the renowned author of The End of Alice and contributing editor at Vanity Fair, offers a personal and illuminating essay that introduces and celebrates Arbus’ photographs, while elegantly placing them in the context of the time in which they were taken.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“Everybody has a life. Everybody has a sensibility. Everybody has yearnings. Everybody has a cause to plead. And everybody has a camera. It takes an intelligence bold as Amy Arbus to turn these universal commonplaces not just into works of art, but works of insight.”
- Richard Avedon, photographer

"Arbus's style is so casual it feels effortless, and every picture has wit,
soul, and graphic snap. Roaming the East and West Village streets, she found and recorded many of the era's most idiosyncratic icons, including John Sex,
Ann Magnuson, Joey Arias, Phoebe Legere, and, inevitably Madonna, whose stained camel-hair coat and scarily prescient bowling bag still look like the very definition of downtown chic. Arbus clearly understands the power of cloths to express personality, so the best of her work is a seamless blend of fashion and portraiture."
- Vince Aletti, The Village Voice

“When the street becomes a stage "normal" people become players in a one act play which never ends. When the director is Amy Arbus, the plot thickens, not only is it the external shakings but she perceives and activates the internal quakings. Each person’s moment becomes an equivalent...a poetic revelation. Amy is our visual scribe. We trust her avidity , since she speaks of all of us.”
-Larry Fink, photographer

Library Journal
Arbus, daughter of famed photographer Diane Arbus, is a successful photographer whose work has included numerous contributions to mainstream periodicals in addition to advertising layouts and private exhibitions. This book features 70 of her portrait photographs, which appeared in the Village Voice during the 1980s as part of a monthly fashion feature. Taken in New York's East Village, these candid shots portray the more extravagant examples of cross-dressing, oversized and overpatterned clothing, and the shaved, sprayed, shaped, and dyed hairstyles unique to Reagan-era fashion. The subjects include popular figures like Madonna and the rock band the Clash, as well as denizens of the Village. This work captures the spirit of the original fashion movement that has been replayed unimaginatively in the so-called alternative trends of recent years. With an essay by novelist Homes (The End of Alice), it will have special significance for readers who were of high school or college age when the photos were taken but probably for no one else. Recommended for specialized design libraries and as an optional purchase for large public libraries. [The November release of the Diane Arbus biopic Fur, starring Nicole Kidman, may spark interest.-Ed.]-Eric Linderman, East Cleveland P.L. Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781599620152
  • Publisher: Rizzoli
  • Publication date: 9/12/2006
  • Pages: 104
  • Sales rank: 792,506
  • Product dimensions: 10.54 (w) x 13.74 (h) x 0.82 (d)

Meet the Author

Amy Arbus has been photographing professionally for twenty-four years. She is a contributing photographer to New York Magazine theater section. Her photographs have appeared in over one hundred periodicals around the world including The New Yorker, Aperture, People, ESPN and The New York Times Magazine. Her advertising clients include American Express, Nickelodeon, Saatchi & Saatchi, New Line Cinema, Christiano Fissore, and The California Children and Families Commission. Her first book, No Place Like Home, portraits of people who live in unusual homes, was published by Doubleday & Company in 1986. Her second book, The Inconvenience of Being Born, a photo essay on the extreme emotional nature of infants, was published by Fotofolio in 1999 and received an Award of Excellence from Communication Arts. She teaches portraiture at the International Center of Photography, The Fine Arts Work Center and The Toscana Photographic Workshops. Her most recent exhibition was at the Schoolhouse Gallery in Massachusetts. She has had thirteen one-woman exhibitions worldwide, and her photographs are a part of the collection of The Museum of Modern Art in New York.
A.M. Homes is the author of the novels The End of Alice, In a Country of Mothers, and Jack, as well as the short-story collection The Safety of Objects and the artist's book Appendix A. Her fiction has been translated into eight languages, and she is the recipient of numerous awards, including a Guggenheim Fellowship and a National endowment for the Arts Fellowship. Her fiction and nonfiction appear in magazines such as The New Yorker and Artforum, among others, and she is a contributing editor at Vanity Fair, Mirabella, Bomb, Blind Spot, and Story. She teaches in the writing programs at Columbia University and The New School and lives in New York City.
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