57 Kodachrome colour prints, each stamped in blue ink 'This is a Kodachrome print made by Eastman Kodak Company' specifying the date taken, with US patent office copyright, all approx 7.5 x 11cm (3 x 4 1/4in) with rounded corners. Printed from Kodachrome film- Kodak's first commercially viable colour film available to the general public, developed in the late 1930s- these fascinating images portray post-war Manhattan and Brooklyn shop fronts. Not only was Kodachrome film uncommon, it needed to be sent back to New York for development, and was very expensive, costing $5 per roll. Considering that the minimum wage at the time was just 25 cents per hour, $5 was almost half a week's work.
The images include pharmacies, liquor stores, clothes shops, cinemas and general stores. The dispassionate composition and documentary nature of the photos suggest a commercial project, possibly a portfolio of aluminium framing of shop fronts and windows, or neon lighting, or script signage. However it is impossible to read the photographs without thinking of the cool gaze of Ed Ruscha, the cumulative narrative of sparsely populated urban landscapes observed without comment or judgement. Passing cars are reflected in the glazed fronts of the shops, a man in shirtsleeves with his back to the camera leans on the bar of a diner, a paper menu has keeled over behind a flower arrangement in a cabinet display, but the signs of life and movement only emphasise the static qualities of the images; high streets captured in the moment of becoming bright and metallic and commercial in the post war era. Many of these images were reproduced in the 2015 limited edition Ruscha pastiche Various New York Store Fronts.
Stock code: 10333