|Rudolph Burckhardt: An Afternoon in Astoria |
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The Museum of Modern Art, New York
"He would take a camera and hold it on something and let you look at it." Alex Katz
One afternoon in February of 1940, Rudolph Burckhardt took the train from Manhattan to the borough of Queens. While there he took pictures of gas stations, cars and children playing. Revealing the photographer's delight in the uncelebrated and the everyday, these four subjects appear repeatedly, from different distances and varying points of view. Later dry-mounted into a hand-made, spiral-bound album titled An Afternoon in Astoria in neatly printed letters, Burckhardt's photographic sequences take the viewer on a semi-narrative walk through a quiet, spread-out neighborhood, far away from everything. More than 60 years after its creation, An Afternoon in Astoria is now finally made available to an audience larger than the photographer, his family, and his friends. Printed to capture the unassuming nature of the original album, with its careful, filmic sequencing of photographs mounted on neutral gray board, this volume celebrates a long-ago afternoon spent in the borough of Queens, the temporary new home of The Museum of Modern Art, New York.
About the Author
Rudolph Burckhardt was born in 1914 in Basel to an aristocratic, intellectually distinguished family. His great-great-uncle was Jacob Burckhardt, renowned historian of the Renaissance, his grandfather a general and a judge, and his father a prominent industrialist. With an inheritance in his pocket, "Rudy" immigrated to New York from Switzerland at the age of 21, and quickly fell in with a sophisticated set of artists, actors, poets, musicians, filmmakers, and writers, including next-door neighbor Willem de Kooning. He was married first to the painter Edith Schoss and later to the painter Yvonne Jacquette. Throughout his artistic life, he made films with artists and poets across several generations, including Joseph Cornell, Edwin Denby, Red Grooms, Alex Katz, Frank O'Hara, Larry Rivers, and Anne Waldman. In 1987, The Museum of Modern Art, New York, held a retrospective of Burckhardt's films; a decade later, a major exhibition of his photography and paintings took place at the IVAM Centre Julio Gonzáles in Valencia. In addition to An Afternoon in Astoria, Burckhardt completed a handful of other albums, on Queens, Manhattan, Italy, and Great Spruce Head Island, Maine. Burckhardt committed suicide in 1999.