The Grey Art Gallery at NYU: Downtown Pix Photography in New York City


The Grey Art Gallery at NYU is one of New York City's great under-appreciated treasures. Located on the ground floor (and the below-ground floor) of the New York University's Silver Center, right across the street from Washington Square Park in Midtown Manhattan, the Grey Art Gallery has for years put on consistently interesting–and sometimes quite breathtaking–art exhibitions, usually to little fanfare, and always for free. Currently at the Grey Art Gallery is an excellent photography show, Downtown Pix: Mining the Fales Archives, 1961 – 1991, which includes more than 300 pictures by both artists and photojournalists, culled from NYU's trove, that together offer a fascinating portrait of an exuberant, creatively-explosive era in New York City's recent history.  


Although the exhibition is quick to point out that "Downtown" is as much a state of mind as a physical location, most of the people, places, and events here are, in fact, are from the sometimes overly-romanticized New York City land below 14th Street. There are plenty of photographs of iconic downtown Manhattan performances: Robert Gordon's chronicles of experimental dance and theater works from the late 1970s and early 1980s, for example, and photographic stills from the minimalist theatrical stagings of Marbou Mines, an avant-garde troupe co-founded by Philip Glass in 1970. And there are some great shots of Creative Time's performance-art spectacles, especially their seminal Art on the Beach series in the mid 1980s. 



Our favorite part of the Grey Art Gallery at NYU's Downtown Pix show might be David Wojnarowicz's riveting series, especially his most famous work, Rimbaud in New York, for which the artist enlisted friends to pose in seedy underground settings, holding a paper mask of Arthur Rimbaud, the French poet, in front of their face. These pictures are simultaneously witty and creepy, and offer a glimpse into a New York City that's mostly gone. We also really like Richard Hell's portraits of NYC's East Village late-70s punk scene; Fred W. McDarrah's documentation of the birth, in 1969, of the Gay Rights/Pride movement in and around the West Village's Stonewall Inn; and, of course, Andy Warhol's photography snapshots of his friends, lovers and hangers-on during the heyday of his Factory years. 



The Grey Art Gallery at NYU: Downtown Pix Photography in New York City Exhibitions Details

Downtown Pix will at the Grey Art Gallery at NYU until April 3, 2010. The Grey Art Gallery is located within the NYU Silver Center on Washington Square East, and is open on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays from 11:00 a.m. until 6:00 p.m., on Wednesdays until 8:00 p.m., and on Saturdays until 5:00. For more information about the Grey Art Gallery and a look at the Downtown Pix show, please visit their website.   


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