In distinctive black and white photographs of people and cityscapes N. Jay Jaffee (1921–1999), a one-time student of Sid Grossman of Photo League fame in New York, simultaneously captured the intimate and the abstract, the momentary and timeless, in exquisite expositions of lights and shadow, visual textures and balanced tension. City streets, subways, signs, markets and the people who inhabited them—documenting these very public spheres was actually a form of self-portrait, a means by which Jaffee interpreted both the world and his position in it at various times throughout his life. As such, his photographs are imbued with a subtle wit and humor, and a profound understanding of the ironies in all of our lives. They suggest a reaching out, inviting us to see and to question with a readied camera and an innocent eye.
Large and small museums, galleries, institutions and private collections around the world have collected Jaffee’s work, including the Museum of Modern Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Brooklyn Museum, the International Museum of Photography and Film (George Eastman House), the Smithsonian Institution, the National Portrait Gallery, the National Museum of American Art, the Fogg Art Museum at Harvard University, the Library of Congress, the New York Public Library, the Bibliotheque Nationale de France and the Centre Georges Pompidou (Paris), among others.
This exhibition will present 70 photographs spanning the career of N. Jay Jaffee, selected from the more than one hundred photographs that comprise the N. Jay Jaffee Collection, acquired by the UMBC Photography Collections in 2013.
The Gallery is open Monday through Friday, 10 am to 4 pm, on Thursday until 8 pm, and Saturday and Sunday 1 – 5 pm. Admission is free. For more information call 410-455-2270.
On Thursday, February 27, please join us for a public program at which Jaffee’s works will be discussed by Christy Ford Chapin (assistant professor, Department of History) and Tom Beck (chief curator of the Albin O. Kuhn Library and Gallery and affiliate professor of Visual Arts), time to be announced.
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Image: N. Jay Jaffee, Two Women on the Subway, 1951.