Art | Need To Now

A small yet powerful show

Triumph and tragedy, atmosphere and art in photos of the 20th century

D81cfe20-9af7-43b1-8f58-a8d7de607032_sixty_square Cf4b3dc5-1f81-4082-971e-6166930510f0_sixty_square 4e14aa05-e9a9-4112-852e-8652542b4407_sixty_square
A small yet powerful show

January 05 2013
Charlotte Abrahams

Lovers of 20th-century photojournalism should hotfoot it to London’s Hoxton Square between Friday January 11 and Saturday February 16 because, hanging on the bright, white walls of the Daniel Blau Gallery, they will find a striking selling exhibition of vintage prints by renowned American photographer Arthur B Rickerby (1921-1972).

A native New Yorker, Rickerby is best known for his atmospheric depictions of everyday life in the city; according to his widow, Wanda, he “prowled the streets and tall buildings of Manhattan night and day”. This display features a number of iconic scenes of the Big Apple, including the beautiful Park in Snow (first picture, c1950), immortalised as silver gelatin prints.

However, it is the journalistic work that’s the real star of The Rickerby Show. As a United Press employee, a freelancer and later one of the prestigious Life magazine staff photographers, Rickerby produced a photodocumentary of 20th-century America. He was there with his camera when US soldiers came back from the second world war (War Weary Veterans Return, second picture, 1946), he was in the motorcade the day President Kennedy was shot, and he was witness to numerous classic sporting moments – both triumphant and tragic (Tumble on the Track, third picture, 1956).

The selection on show at Daniel Blau may be small (there are 36 images in total), but it manages to give a real sense of the breadth of Rickerby’s talent. These highly collectable photographs not only have a poetic allure but also present a powerfully resonant portrait of the past century.