April 7, 2010

Wandering the World City showcases a selection of Jan Yoors’ (1922-1977) black and white photographs of New York. An eager explorer of the city, Yoors masterfully documented its changing urban landscape in the 1960s.

Belgian-born Yoors spent much of his adolescence traveling with a family or kumpania of Gypsies (self-identified as Romani, Roma and Rom, among other names) in Western Europe. From this early experience Yoors developed a unique sensitivity for, and an understanding of, cultures other than his own. Though he eventually renounced his kumpania’s nomadic lifestyle and returned to his parents’ home in Antwerp, Yoors would always think of himself as a Gypsy – a true citizen of the world.

Fleeing the destruction of World War II, Yoors immigrated to Manhattan in the 1950s. It was here, on the streets of the ‘World City,’ as he called it, that he found the inspiration for his many artistic ventures. In addition to his photography, tapestries and sculptures, he wrote three acclaimed books: The Gypsies, Crossing: A Journal of Survival and Resistance in World War II, and The Gypsies of Spain. As a photographer, Yoors collaborated in the production of the film and book Only One New York—described as ‘a journey through the undiscovered worlds of the great city’—issued in 1964, and 1965 respectively.

Yoors’ incredible talent in seeking out and appreciating difference gave him entrée into multiple facets of city life. From striking images of demolition in Lower Manhattan to intimate photographs of a Gypsy wedding in Coney Island, Wandering the World City portrays an extraordinary time of change and diversity. Through Jan Yoors’ lens we are offered a glimpse of ‘New York City not as one city, but many; not one culture, but a multitude; not one city, but a hundred superimposed cities’.

There will be an opening reception on Friday, May 7, 2010, from 6:30 – 8:30 pm in the SIPA Atrium. Click here for more information.