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'Only in New York,' Exhibition and Book Opens At The Museum Of The City Of New York


An exhibition of more than 100 photographs drawn from the historic LOOK magazine archive will open at the Museum of the City of New York on November 18, 2009. The exhibition, Only in New York, accompanies the first-ever book to make publicly available and to interpret these images, some 200,000 of which were donated to the Museum of the City of New York in the 1950s by Cowles Magazines. Only in New York will document the city as it became a great global capital in the years following World War II while remaining a city of diverse neighborhoods. The exhibition is organized by Donald Albrecht, Curator of Architecture and Design at the Museum, and Thomas H. Mellins, an independent curator, both of whom also wrote and edited the book; the book, which includes more than 200 photographs, also features a foreword by Susan Henshaw Jones, the Museum's Ronay Menschel Director. It is co-published by the Museum of the City of New York and Monacelli Press (a division of Random House).

LOOK magazine, founded in 1937 and located in New York, brought a lively editorial slant and an entertaining photojournalistic style into some eight million American homes during television's earliest years and decades before today's "big media" information age. Its publisher, Gardner (Mike) Cowles, sought to meet "the tremendous unfilled demand for extraordinary news and feature pictures." The magazine's broad editorial coverage included international news as well as national features. However, with New York City just outside their doors, the editors, writers, and photographers found it not only interesting but efficient and inexpensive to develop stories that took place in Manhattan and the surrounding four boroughs. Only in New York will feature photographs that LOOK published, and perhaps more importantly, photographs that remained unpublished. Most of the images depict the transformation of the city from 1945 to the early 1960s, revealing an engaging portrait of New York as it achieved star quality on the world's stage.

Only in New York includes celebrities: Marlon Brando, the year after he shot to stardom in Tennessee Williams's A Streetcar Named Desire; Lisa Fonssagrives, the world's first "supermodel;" Rocky Graziano, the boxer, and Salvador Dalí, the surrealist artist; Charles James, the legendary fashion designer; and more. Stanley Kubrick, who became one of Hollywood's great directors, sold his first image to LOOK when he was 17 years of age; his photographs of boxer Walter Cartier, believed to have been the impetus for his later film, The Day of the Fight (1951), are featured in Only in New York. The city's iconic places will be spotlighted as well: Times Square; Harlem in 1949, as it grew from a center of culture during its Renaissance to a bastion of political clout in 1948; Park Avenue and Spanish Harlem; and many more.

And the people of the city, from titans of industry to flame eaters, athletes to animal trainers; society matrons to showgirls; unsung heroes to Hollywood legends, will also be on view in Only in New York. Collaborating with LOOK's editors, art directors, and photographers, New Yorkers strutted, cavorted, and preened their way across the magazine's pages. Celebrated in the pages of LOOK, they were portrayed and perceived as winners, yet some of the photographs reveal the darker side of ambition and the cost of failure.

Demonstrating how these memorable photographs appeared on LOOK's artfully composed pages, the exhibition will include a display of vintage magazines, allowing visitors to see how LOOK's art directors married image and text to create lively photojournalism. LOOK magazine discontinued publication in 1971.

The exhibition and new book build on the success of the Museum's 2007 exhibition-Willing To Be Lucky: Ambitious New Yorkers in the Pages of LOOK Magazine-which documented the city's allure for those who sought fame, fortune, and romance. Only in New York will be available at the Museum's Shop and at bookstores; it will cost $40.00.

The exhibition design is by Pure + Applied.

The Museum of the City of New York presents and interprets the past, present, and future of New York City and celebrates its heritage of diversity, opportunity, and perpetual transformation. The Museum's exhibitions, public programs, and publications on New York City's political and social history, including Amsterdam/New Amsterdam: The Worlds of Henry Hudson, Robert Moses and the Modern City: Remaking the Metropolis, New York Comes Back: Mayor Ed Koch and the City, to name but a few-have garnered praise from the press and public alike.

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