Posts Tagged ‘Stanley Kubrick Look magazine’

Subway riding in the 1940s with Stanley Kubrick

September 12, 2016

In March 1947, the popular national biweekly publication Look published a stark, six-page photo feature called “Life and Love on the New York Subway.”

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The photographer behind the powerful and poetic images? Future film director Stanley Kubrick—at the time a teenage correspondent for the magazine who sold photo features on everything from city dogs to shoeshine boys to the life of a New York showgirl.

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Like street photographers before him (think Walker Evans during the Depression), Kubrick decided to take his camera underground and shoot the people riding the trains.

He hoped to reveal the emotion and humanity behind the typical subway rider’s facade of disinterest and indifference, to capture romance, humor, vulnerability, and loneliness.

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He explained how he did it in an interview with Camera magazine a year later.

“Kubrick rode the lines for two weeks,” the article stated. “Most of his traveling to and fro was done at night, as more unusual activities were likely to take place then.”

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Kubrick used no flash, and apparently his subjects didn’t know they were caught on film.

“These are truly unusual studies and expressions of life in a subway. Running true to form, drunks, love makers, sleepers, wanderers, and lonesome people were caught, wholly unaware of the fact that they were being photographed.”

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His images are striking in their ordinariness, not unlike the faces of subway riders under the streets of New York City today. Train interiors and platforms haven’t changed either.

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But taking pictures on a train in the 1940s posed challenges.

“Regardless of what he saw he couldn’t shoot until the car stopped in a station because of the motion and vibration of the moving train. Kubrick finally did get his pictures, and no one but a subway guard seemed to mind.”

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The kicker of the Camera story foretells the future. “Stan is also very serious about cinematography, and is about to start filming a sound production written and financed by himself, and several friends.”

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These photos and hundreds more from Kubrick can be viewed via Museum of the City of New York digital collections.

[All photos from the MCNY. Accession numbers: photo 1: X2011.4.11107.61A; photo 2: X2011.411107.55C; photo 3: X2011.4.11107.45F; photo 4: X2011.4.10292.63D; photo 5: C2011.4.10292.100C; photo 6: X2011.4.11107.125; photo 7: X2011.4.11107.92E; photo 8: X2011.4.11107.49F]

Capturing a dog’s life in 1940s New York City

June 16, 2016

Before his days as a legendary filmmaker, Stanley Kubrick was a talented 17-year-old Bronx teenager who landed a gig as a photographer for Look magazine.

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During his five years at Look, Kubrick captured more than 15,000 poetic and powerful images of men and women, of the rich and the poor, all navigating life amid the beauty and tragedy of postwar New York.

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In the late 1940s, he was put on what probably seemed like a frivolous assignment at the time: a story eventually called “A Dog’s Life in the Big City.”

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The article “remains a surprisingly interesting social study” of what day-to-day life was like mainly for the pooches of the city’s “idle rich,” as one Kubrick biography stated.

Looking at these photos almost 70 years later, it seems that today’s upper-class pet parents spoiled their canines in the more elegant and formal late 1940s the same way they do today.

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The first photo shows a little guy relaxing in front of a bakery while his owner reads the paper. Next, a doorman is tasked with walking a boxer.

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The third image is captioned, “In the checkroom of New York’s smart 21 Club, four poodles, an Afghan and a camera-conscious Bedlington are cared for while their mistresses lunch.” What was this woman paid for that job?

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Pampered Afghans went for a ride in a convertible. Two lucky pooches got treats from the neighborhood butcher.

And homeless dogs ended up at institution-like shelters, seen here. “A lost mutt finds friends who take him to the ASPCA shelter,” the caption reads.

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“If owner does not claim him, he will be offered for adoption on payment of license fee.”

[All photos and others from Kubrick’s incredible body of work: MCNY Collections Portal]