An “empathetic observer” of 1950s New York

During the week, Greenpoint native Frank Oscar Larson made a living as an auditor, and eventually a vice president, of a Manhattan bank.

But in his spare time, he was an avid street photographer—and his intimate, sometimes haunting images are finally getting their due.

In 1949, after his kids were grown, Larson spent the next decade on “weekend expeditions around New York with his beloved Rolleiflex Automat Model 4 camera around his neck, produced thousands of images which he developed in a basement darkroom,” states the website for the Queens Museum, which is exhibiting Larson’s photos through May 20.

“Some were printed and entered in photography competitions where he won awards, but most remained undiscovered until the cardboard box of negatives that had been packed away since Frank’s death in 1964, was found,” the site explains.

Larson’s shots focus on regular people, and they transform mundane moments into richly atmospheric and vulnerable scenes in many neighborhoods, including Times Square, Chinatown, the Bowery.

Many more examples of his work can be found here.

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5 Responses to “An “empathetic observer” of 1950s New York”

  1. Beth Says:

    Your timing is great! I saw this exhibit at the Queens Museum this past weekend and it was quite good. He captured great slices of life in the ’50s. I highly recommend it. I’ll have a blog post of my own about this in the next couple of days.

  2. wildnewyork Says:

    I love that capturing all of these moments was basically a hobby for him, and the negatives found in his house. What a treasure!

  3. petey Says:

    the ‘work’ pictures are excellent.

  4. ML Says:

    Thank you so much for the link. The photos are wonderful.

  5. Elsewhere « Visualingual Says:

    […] An “Empathetic Observer” of 1950s New York: the recently discovered work of street photographer Oscar Larson. […]

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