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Plachy, a photographer for The New Yorker, is a master of candid street photography à la Henri Cartier-Bresson, capturing the perfect moment all about the greater Gotham metropolis. Copublished by Aperture and The New Yorker, the Hungarian-born photographer's latest book gathers nearly 100 whimsical, documentary images recently published as openers to the magazine's front section of weekly event listings. Plachy (mother of actor Adrien Brody) records with mercurial humor a charming variety of New York life: e.g., performers of all types, on stage and behind the curtains; children and workers in museums; and outdoor pleasure grounds. Her abiding love of the cultures and landscapes making up the New York region is here manifest. Though similar in scope, Cooper's book (Hip-Hop Files: Photographs, 1979-1984) is an altogether grittier document of the city. Her images all date from the embattled 1970s, when New York was in financial ruin and whole neighborhoods like the South Bronx epitomized urban decay in the popular imagination. Cooper at the time was a staff photographer for the New York Post, and her camera records the city under a preponderance of snow, litter, heat, and apparent desuetude. One might easily conclude from all the coatings of dust and grimy snow that this was America's least aesthetically pleasing decade. Yet the gregarious joy evident in so many of the uncaptioned, unidentified black-and-white photos-e.g., of children posing before graffitied walls, of sunbathers on collapsing piers-reveals an optimism that Cooper's affectionate gaze obviously couldn't resist. Involving as they are, these collections are not essential for mostlibraries, but they would make excellent gifts for Big Apple natives and/or aficionados.
—Douglas F. Smith