From the moment the Pennsylvania-born Duane Michals (born 1932) settled in Manhattan in 1956 the metropolitan environment in which he found himself exerted a powerful spell on his creative imagination.
In 1964 he began to document New York City in a tantalisingly unfamiliar guise, virtually empty of inhabitants at dawn or dusk. In deeply evocative black-and-white images he depicted storefronts and interiors; deserted stations, subway cars, funfairs and arcades; derelict markets, vacant theatres and diners.
Day after day Michals would rise at dawn to capture unpeopled sidewalks, bridges and parking lots, architectural fragments, the Hudson River, cityscapes in the mist, skyscrapers and urban nature reflected in the puddles of Central Park.
Beautifully realised and now achingly nostalgic, the photographs in Empty New York show us the city frozen in time. A social history and also a photographic reportage, Duane Michals’ pictorial poem reminds us with every frame how he has earned his place among the greats of American photography.