STREET TYPES: Turn of the Century Portraiture by Alice Austen

03/5/13– 06/23/13

This remarkable exhibition brings to life the streets and people of turn-of-the-twentieth-century New York City through a never-before-displayed original portfolio by renowned photographer Alice Austen. Her groundbreaking work as one of the earliest female street photographers captured the changing face of the city’s working class, as the population expanded in the late 1890’s. 

Austen traveled to Manhattan on her bicycle and almost fifty pounds of photographic equipment. The portfolio features a fascinating assortment of city dwellers. It was produced in 1896 by the Albertype Company - our copy on display was originally created as a gift for Alice Austen’s Aunt Min and Uncle Oswald (the same uncle that gave Austen her first camera around age 10).

Along with the portfolio, we have selected an expanded collection of Austen’s work from Manhattan during one of the prolific periods of her life. The show examines Austen’s intentions and leaves the viewer to ponder her reasoning for the project – a question that was left unanswered at the time of her death in 1952.

While most remember Austen as a wealthy, turn of the century photographer who lived an idyllic life in New York Society, the exhibition proves she is one of America’s earliest, and indeed most prolific, photographers.