Thursday, July 19, 2012

New York and William Claxton

My oldest friend gave me this superb book of New York for my birthday recently. I love it. It's enormous and jam packed with some amazing photography and history of the city that never sleeps.
This photo below is my favourite. It was taken in 1960 by famous photographer William Claxton and is called 'Big and little apples'

Fabulous, yes?
I've been trying to find it everywhere and have had no luck. What's been great about the researching of it is coming across more of this man's work which is, in a nutshell - superb.

William Claxton was mostly known for his work as a jazz photographer who then ventured into fashion photography. In 1959 and 1960 Claxton and noted Musicologist Joachim Berendt travelled the United States on the Jazz trail. One of the musicians Claxton favoured (and pretty much made famous) was Chet Baker.

This picture above is of Chet Baker outside Birdland, New Yorks hottest jazz club of the 50s and 60s. If you remember from my New York visit, I went to Birdland the final night of my trip for a jazz fix. It's no longer the original which is photographed here. It's been moved since this photo was taken but had awesome photos around the perimter of the room of all the greats that had played and visited the place. It was a serious hang out for Frank and his cronies and of course, Miss Monroe.

Claxton and Berendt created a book called Jazz Life. Collectors Editions cost around the $2,500 mark.  This is another shot that I love from his jazz days

Claxton married a model by the name of Peggy Moffit, this is her below, great shot. He later took photos of her topless in a swimsuit which were considered 'groundbreaking'
A few more favourites...

I'm really mesmerised by his work, not only what he captures but the era in which most of it was taken. What an amazing place to be in the 60s.

Another interesting image out of this book is this one.

As we all know, there was some serious crime action going on in the Big Apple in the 1980's. This photo was taken by Janette Beckman in 1986 on Avenue C in the East Village which was then known as 'Alphabet City'.

Motte's advice on "How to Survive in New York City"

Looking over the evolution of New York, it's simply amazing to see where it started and where it is now. It's not at all hard to understand why so many people have been drawn to it. So much history and tradition is inscripted at every corner, yet it's a city which is so very  welcoming of change.


  1. Fabulous post. Aren't great photos breathtaking? Seeing great photos makes me glad to be human. Stupid thing to say, but that's how I feel.

    Mid-90s I was on a New York subway with a couple of other obviously innocent Australian private school girls, and we quickly realised we were on the subway to the wrong side of the tracks. I could barely control my bladder. I think in retrospect I was over-reacting. I also travelled through Rome with a stick, to beat off gypsy children.

  2. New York city is contains one of the world's largest subway system. If you are new there, you can get lost easily if not properly guided.

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  3. Hello,
    are you sure it is Chet Baker on the second picture ?

  4. 100% defo that it is Chet Baker. I've been looking for that image for years after seeing it in a cafe in Belfast. Got bought a William Claxton book by my now wife. This image wasn't in it and I have stumbled acorss this image this morning! Wonderful!! Thank you. It's one of my favourite pictures EVER!!!!!

    1. That is NOT Chet Baker. It is actor Ben Carruthers who was photographed a bunch by Claxton. He was the star of Cassavetes film "Shadows" (1959). If you think that's Baker, you're clueless.

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