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Untitled (In Front of St. Patrick's Cathedral)
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© Donald Blumberg

Donald Blumberg
American, New York, 1965 - 1967
Gelatin silver print
4 1/8 x 19 5/16 in.
2006.22.13

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A man's face and the triangular shape of his white shirt beneath a dark jacket and tie float amorphously in a dark strip of space. On either side of him, at the corners of the elongated picture frame, blurry white figures drift into the composition. This juxtaposition could be read as a relationship between the human and spiritual worlds, or simply the realm of this man--or the photographer's--imagination.

Donald Blumberg's series In Front of St. Patrick's Cathedral was made along Fifth Avenue in Manhattan between 1965 and 1967. By tilting the camera and excluding the edges of the building's darkened doorway as worshippers spilled out into the bright sunlight, he created unconventional scenes in which figures float against a dense black background, unmoored from the specificities of time and place. Blumberg planned and shot sequences that depicted a single figure successively, changed its scale, or blurred its appearance as he moved the camera during long exposures. By combining two to three contiguous 35mm frames within a single panoramic print, he introduced a sense of movement and narrative to still photography.