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Categories: Artist Of The Week
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“I’ve been walking on the street where you live for decades. I am a street photographer. I walk the streets and take pictures. Sometimes I do it for a particular reason. And sometimes I just do it.” – David Godlis

Reel Art Press is excited to announce the publication of Godlis Streets (November 2020) – the first book dedicated to the 1970s and ’80s street photography of celebrated photographer David Godlis. With a foreword by critic Luc Sante, and an afterword by Blondie co-founder and guitarist Chris Stein, Godlis Streets is a fascinating collection of photographs that represent the artist’s focus: “It was the streets I wanted to conquer. Lisette Model said: ‘photography is the art of the split second’. So I taught myself to be fast. To ‘zone focus’ with my 35mm wide angle lens. No high art aims. Just street photographs.”

Godlis is perhaps most celebrated for his grainy black and white images of the famous CBGB’s punk scene made up of the Ramones, Patti Smith, Blondie, Television, Richard Hell and Talking Heads. For over 40 years, his practice has also consisted of walking around the streets of first Boston and later New York City and shooting whatever catches his eye. Heavily influenced by Brassai’s immersive reportage of 1930s Paris, and inspired by Robert Frank, Diane Arbus, Gary Winogrand, and Lee Friedlander, whom he quotes:

“‘You don’t have to go looking for pictures. You go out and the pictures are staring at you’. He sure was right about that,” Godlis was enamoured with street photography, adopting an approach to the art that is instinctual and immediate, shooting scenes and subjects with long handheld Leica exposures and using only natural light.

Following the suicide of Diane Arbus in 1972, MoMA held a retrospective of her work that moved Godlis to continue to shoot what he saw in the moment, enabling the mystery behind each image to speak for itself.

“It’s like these moments are posed, but in a way they’re too good and succinct to be staged. It’s just the heightened reality that’s all around us all the time but that usually remains unobserved.” – Chris Stein

From nuns walking past crude advertisements and signs donning ‘the end is nigh’, a woman tanning herself with solar panels next to a fountain, commuters en route to the nearest subway station and midnight diner patrons, Godlis never misses a beat. In capturing the rebellion, mundanity and humour through subtle observations across cultures and generations – in cafes and bars, on streets and porches – Godlis depicts the city in the midst of change, on the edge of something new, inadvertently documenting its evolution from grit to glamour. 

Godlis has exhibited all over the world. Born in 1951, and beginning his career at the age of 19, he is one of the most important street photographers of a generation. Since the late eighties he has been photographer for Film at Lincoln Center, and for the last 25 years has covered the New York Film Festival.

REEL ART PRESS: R|A|P stands for exceptional style and a unique curatorial eye. It stands for luxury and class, the highest production values, and a sensitivity to an eclectic selection of subject matter and material. It stands for rare, unpublished and unusual work including subjects with mass appeal and limited editions with unlimited potential. The company has made headlines around the world with its previous releases, which include: Woodstock: 3 Days of Peace & Music, Led Zeppelin by Led Zeppelin, Burt Glinn: The Beat Scene, Total Excess: Photographs by Michael Zagaris, Marilyn Manson: 21 Years in Hell by Perou and Billy Name: The Silver Age.

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