Past Exhibition

Bill Cunningham: Facades

March 14, 2014 - June 15, 2014

In 1968, photographer Bill Cunningham embarked on an eight-year project to document the architectural riches and fashion history of New York City. Scouring the city’s thrift stores, auction houses, and street fairs for vintage clothing, and scouting sites on his bicycle, Cunningham generated a photographic essay entitled Facades, which paired models—in particular his muse, fellow photographer Editta Sherman—in period costumes with historic settings.

In 1968, photographer Bill Cunningham embarked on an eight-year project to document the architectural riches and fashion history of New York City. Scouring the city’s thrift stores, auction houses, and street fairs for vintage clothing, and scouting sites on his bicycle, Cunningham generated a photographic essay entitled Facades, which paired models—in particular his muse, fellow photographer Editta Sherman—in period costumes with historic settings.  

Although by turns whimsical and bold, Cunningham’s project also was part of the larger cultural zeitgeist in New York City, during an era in which issues surrounding both the preservation and the problems of the urban landscape loomed large. The photographer donated 88 silver gelatin prints from the series to the New-York Historical Society in 1976, and now, almost four decades later, Cunningham’s work will be reconsidered in a show that will highlight the historical perspective the photographs suggest—not just of the distant past, but of the particular time in which they were created.

Exhibitions at New-York Historical are made possible by Dr. Agnes Hsu-Tang and Oscar Tang, the Saunders Trust for American History, the Evelyn & Seymour Neuman Fund, the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council, and the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of the Office of the Governor and the New York State Legislature. WNET is the media sponsor.

  • NYC Cultural Affairs
  • NY Council on the Arts

Media sponsor:

  • WNET New York Public Media