E.J. Bellocq Storyville Portraits
From dust jacket notes: "These beautiful portraits of prostitutes in Storyville were made early in the century by a little-known photographer named E. J. Bellocq. One of this country's few closed and legalized red-light districts, Storyville got its name when, in 1896, Alderman Sidney Story attempted to clean up the New Orleans waterfront by restricting prostitution to a circumscribed area. Much to his chagrin, the are came to be called 'Storyville,' and it was so known until the United States Navy closed it for good in 1917, at the time of the country's entry into World War I. Storyville also became famous as the home of New Orleans jazz. Salvaged from a group of glass plates discovered in Bellocq's desk after his death, the portraits constitute the only fragment of his work known to have survived. The present selection was printed especially for this volume by the photographer Lee Friedlander. The text, edited by John Szarkowski, Director of the Department of Photography at the Museum of Modern Art, is based in part on interviews conducted by Lee Friedlander with persons who were acquainted with Belloccq - a fellow photographer, several musicians, a writer, and a former prostitute who is subject of many of Bellocq's portraits. Sketched in these conversations is the picture of a small, misshapen man - reminiscent of the artist Toulouse-Lautrec - whose craft seems to have absorbed most of his energy and interest and of whom little else is known. His pictures tell us perhaps more about Bellocq than can those who remember him only as an odd character with a camera who kept very much to himself. They reveal an artist of considerable skill and uncultivated but compelling sensibility. 'Seeing his pictures, ' writes Szarkowski, 'we are persuaded that he had knowledge of the nature of other human beings.'"
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