Like Brassai’s book Paris by Night and W. Eugene Smith’s Pittsburgh Project, Jean-Pierre Laffont’s New York Up and Down is an unabashed love letter to a city. The French Algerian-born photojournalist worked in France in the early sixties before moving to New York City in 1965 and becoming a founding member of Gamma USA and Sygma Photo News.
Although he has worked all over the world, Laffont has always considered New York his favorite city, and has photographed it obsessively and with extraordinary insight for five decades. His images are among the most iconic ever made of this turbulent city.
Laffont and his camera seemed to be here, there and everywhere all at once, capturing an indelible visual record of Balzacian dimensions. What sets his photographs apart is his eye for detail, his knack for choosing the right perspective for maximum clarity and effect, his command of moments both big and small, and his fearless yet always respectful interaction with the people in front of his camera.
Eliane Laffont, writing the book’s afterword, nails the essential character of this amazing city: “New York City is fun but can make you cry. It is organized and chaotic, gritty and sophisticated, attractive and repulsive, loud and strangely quiet, cruel and tender, dirty and too clean. You like it one day, and hate it the rest of the week. It is forever changing, yet always stays the same. It is so beautiful it takes your breath away, yet ugliness is around the corner. Everything is up and down and up again.”
These two exhibitions are curated by Jean Loh.
NEW YORK CITY UP AND DOWN
Shenzhen Photography Festival
LAFFONT’S LONG MARCH
Beaugeste Gallery in Shanghai