In The Shadow of the Elephant. Photograph © Sylvia Plachy
“Not since Robert Frank's 'The Americans' have I experienced a body of work of such range and power. She makes me laugh and she breaks my heart. She is moral. She is everything a photographer should be.”–Richard Avedon
Photograph © Sylvia Plachy
Jean Michel Basquiat. Photograph © Sylvia Plachy
Adrien Brody as Richie Rude in Spike Lee's Summer of Sam
Photograph © Sylvia Plachy
“I couldn't take my eyes off him. Here was this vibrant little being;
his emotions mirrored in his face.”–Sylvia Plachy
son – the Oscar-winner Adrien Brody – was born in 1973 and became her constant
model. The photographs of her son are integral part of her oeuvre and, to this day,
she wishes her friends and acquaintances happy holidays each year
with a picture taken of Adrien in that given year.
Night Mare. Photograph © Sylvia Plachy
Recoleta Argentina. Photograph © Sylvia Plachy
Sylvia often visited Kertész; they talked a lot about life
and photography, and gradually a deep friendship developed between them. “I
have never seen the moment sensed and caught on film with more intimacy and
humanity." – Kertész said
of Sylvia and her work.
Dora and Marika. Photograph © Sylvia Plachy
"The 110 images from Sylvia Plachy's exhibition, When Will It Be Tomorrow, opening at the Hungarian Photographer’s House in Budapest, are selected from her entire oeuvre with neither the places they were taken at, nor their theme playing a role in their inclusion, but they are chosen if they are attracted by the title’s question." Gabriella Csizek, the curator of the exhibition writes, "The installation adheres to a logic of poetry. The individual walls are verses, bringing the halls and the exhibition as whole together into a poem, a series of poems. The sequences of images created through associations, emotions, and meanings are sometimes painful and eternally lonely. Still at times, they put a smile on our faces."
"Sylvia Plachy's humanism and commitment to truth," continues Ms. Csizek in her introduction to the show, “are not in the harmonious presentation of the world or in search of its beauty; instead, she makes us see the back story with an almost imperceptible subtlety. She sees the fallibility of human existence and reveals cracks and layers of fragility in the faces or course of events. She senses the moment and converts this feeling into an image mapped onto light-sensitive paper. She often conceals her portraits, almost displaying them as quasi-still lifes. Her subjects are never beautiful or ugly; they are people who are just who they have become and who they could be. Sylvia holds a soul-mirror in the form of a camera in her hand. All of her images are a piece of fiction, yet genuinely real at the same time. She never finishes a story but shows it, thus giving life to the image."
Sylvia Plachy, 2014. Photograph ©Elizabeth Paul Avedon
1956, after the revolution, the world-famous Budapest-born photographer, Sylvia Plachy, crossed
the Austrian border with her parents. Part of the way they were hidden by corn
in a horse-drawn farm cart. Two years later the family settled in the New York
area, where she has been living with her family since then. She took her
first photographs in the Austrian Alps at the age of 15 during a school trip
with an Agfa Box camera a gift from her father. The picture was of a
black goat in the snow-covered white landscape.
began taking photographs during her studies at Pratt Institute in 1964,
learning the basics of the craft during a photography course she took in her
junior year; she then realized that she had found her calling. Sice 1974, for thirty years, Plachy was an influential staff photographer of the Village Voice, a cultural weekly newspaper in New York. For eight of those years, she had a column, UNGUIDED TOUR and on the contents page in one image per week and without words she was the city’s peculiar chronicler. Her first book, Unguided Tour came with a record by Tom Waits and featured selected images from the column and from her other Voice assignments. It won ICP’s Infinity award for best publication in 1990. Her next book Red Light (1996) was followed by Signs + Relics (1999), then Self Portrait with Cows Going Home, which received a Golden Light Award in 2004. She subsequently published Going on About Town (2007) and Out of the Corner of My Eye (2008).
Her photography work has been accompanied by continuous success and recognition. In 1977, she received a Guggenheim Fellowship. In 2004, the WIPI (Women in Photography International) gave her a Lucie Award. In 2009, she was given the Dr. Erich Salomon award by the German Society for Photography (DGPh) for her lifetime achievement in photojournalism.
Her photographs have appeared in Vogue, Camera Arts, Artforum, The New York Times, Granta, Grand Street, Newsweek, Conde Nast Traveler, Metropolis Magazine, and New Yorker. She has had multiple solo shows around the globe from Tokyo to Los Angeles. Her works are in private and museum collections including, amongst others, Guggenheim Museum (NYC), Museum of Modern Art (NYC), San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Bibliothèque Nationale de France (Paris).
In her life and images, Sylvia Plachy sustains what Central European roots mean for her. She looks back at her first thirteen years in Hungary as a decisive period of her life, cherishing childhood friendships and using the values of her parents as her inner compass to guide her to this day. Starting in 1965, she returned frequently, like a pilgrim. She visited her grandmother, her friends and the smells and scenes of her childhood. Her newfound language, photography was the bridge that connected past and present.
The title of the exhibition, When Will It Be Tomorrow, is a sentence from her childhood she used to ask before going to bed. She intends to give this title to her next book as well. or
thirty years, Sylvia Plachy was an influential staff photographer of the Village
Voice, a cultural weekly newspaper in New York. For eight of those years,
she had a column, the title most of the time was UNGUIDED TOUR and on
the contents page in one image per week and without words she was the city’s
peculiar chronicler. Her first book, the legendary Unguided Tour
came with a record by Tom Waits i and featured selected images from the column
and from her other Voice assignments. it won ICP’s Infinity award for best
publication in 1990. (text provided by sylviaplachy.com)