- United States
It was an age of flagging innocence when the fabric of American society was being rended by social trauma and strife: war, racial unrest, assassinations. At the same time, though, the late 60s also brought an awakening to a new reality; an Aquarian dream may have been dying, but its spirit was evolving through art, particularly the golden music of youth.
Harvey Silver was there, capturing both memorable and forgotten NYC moments through the lens of his 35-milimeter Nikkomat camera. He brings his work to EV Gallery, 621 E. 11th St., in a solo show entitled Changin’ Times that opens Dec. 3 and runs through Jan. 14.
“The world was in upheaval. Everything was interesting — the counterculture, the music, the politics — I viewed everything as a potential photograph. Documenting it enhanced the experience of living through it,” Silver said in 2017 interview with the Poughkeepsie Journal.
One of his most striking photographs poignantly captures the nation’s grief by luring viewers into the mind’s eye of a little girl as she reflects, both literally and mentally, on a photograph of slain presidential aspirant Robert F. Kennedy in 1968.
The photograph, taken on 5th Ave. just blocks from the site of Kennedy’s funeral at St. Patrick’s Cathedral, evokes the sense of loss and hopelessness felt by many Americans, but at the same time it points the way forward to a future represented by the little girl. A gripping moment, captured perfectly.
In a work from his protest collection, Silver succeeds in capturing the anger of a group of protestors as they head up 5th Ave. after the assassination of the Rev. Martin Luther King in 1968. Silver’s protest works do not suffer by comparison to the work of Life Magazine’s great Howard Sochurek, or that of Gordon Parks before him.
At the same time, though, Silver’s images include joyous celebrations of art and music, including a telling portrait of Dave Van Ronk, the underappreciated keystone figure in the fertile 1960s Greenwich Village folk music scene who is sometimes referred to as the Mayor of MacDougal Street. His on-stage shots of the likes of Flying Burrito Brother and Rolling Stones friend Gram Parsons are reminiscent of the work of rock music action photographer Jim Marshall.
And there are shots of everyday New Yorkers of the period, like the one of an anonymous, nattily dressed man in a homburg hat, frowning as he smokes a cigarette in front of the Empire State Building. The frown could reflect the sense of disgust felt by some members of a generation that time had passed by. A comparison to William Klein might be a stretch here, but Silver’s street works are of a piece with those of the late street photography legend.
Do you remember that Norman Mailer, the pioneering and enigmatic man of letters, ran for mayor of New York in 1969? Well, in case you don’t, Silver has recorded for posterity a lively shot of an animated Mailer seemingly ready to vault over a podium to connect with voters.
The son of a photographer and manager of a professional camera store in Manhattan, SIlver grew up in the city and began taking photographs in earnest in high school and as a student at Queens College after that.
Silver’s work has been published in major media outlets including Rolling Stone, The New Yorker, New York Times, New York Magazine, Smithsonian, Huffington Post, AOL, and CNN. Images for publication may be viewed at Getty Images. For inquires and acquisitions, please visit evgallery.art, email email@example.com or call 978-799-9014.
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