Alfred Schwartz

My father was a photographer who grew up in Brooklyn NY. He was the only surviving son of immigrant Jews from Romania. His passion for his craft began very early in his childhood as a young man in Sea Gate, Brooklyn.

I remember going to Sid and Miriam Grossman’s cottage in Provincetown in the early 1950’s. He was friends with Lisette Model, and her husband Evsa, and he was active in the NY photo scene, but largely avoided promoting his own work. He was methodical about cataloging his images; every photo had the year, film roll and printing instructions. My father was very progressive and his work was informed by this, which gave him a commanding vision of a strong social and political context in all his work.
As an artist of the 1950’s until his death in 1994, his dedication and love for the New York area and beyond, are exemplified by his expansive output and oeuvre, and the extraordinary ability to relate to his subjects and get the shot. He traveled to Costa Rica and Mexico, as well, revealing a deep affinity for all people of the world.

I remember as a child, he always had his Leica with him, and we would frequently scout out possible areas that might yield photographic treasures. Even today, when I look through his work, I always discover places in NY that I recognize, but have transformed of late into highly prized and gentrified neighborhoods. I had a studio in the Rope Factory in Greenpoint, and one day, I found a photograph of my father’s, of the same building on West and Noble Streets.

My father was the kind of intrepid adventurer that was always on the lookout for the sublime underbelly of the New York region. Once, in the 1970’s on a jaunt for discovery, he mentioned that there was an interesting restaurant on the top of a hill in Tarrytown NY. I laughed and asked him when was the last time he saw this place? World War II ?!! Nevertheless, we took a drive, and damn, if it wasn’t still there. He was the kind of explorer that loved getting lost, using the sun to find his way back to known territories.

Later in life, his directive was in minimal landscapes, and of his beloved Long Island Sound. The context of the North Fork of Long Island, expanded his vision to nature, brutal and peaceful. His final photograph was of the sea meeting the sky.

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