Part historian, part urban sociologist, Camilo Jose Vergara’s photographs sing the blues and mercurial hopes of the inner city. Born in 1944 in Santiago, Chile, to an affluent family that was reduced to poverty by uncontrollable economic changes, Vergara came to the U.S. for college and went on to receive a MA from Columbia University. After graduating, he began a life-career of documenting the changes in Harlem, Detroit, Chicago, Los Angeles and Camden, NJ. “I saw my mission as compiling a record of the destruction and violence done…at the height of America’s urban crisis,” said Vergara. His photos celebrate the life and death of the innermost parts our cities, their cycle of decay and change as seen in time lapsed images of buildings, intersections, gathering hubs. Camilo’s remarkable work – inspired in part by the photos of Aaron Siskind - has earned him a MacArthur Foundation Grant, a place in numerous museums and galleries and a National Humanities Medal in 2013. He was the first photographer to win the award. Harlem: The Unmaking of a Ghetto, Vergara’s 8th book, shows the transformation of Harlem through the last 3 decades of the last century but it is the story of many of America’s inner cities. With poignant and loving attention to detail, Vergara shows the how the landmarks have weathered and evolved how life has changed. The best images reel with empathy and longing.
Camilo Jose Vergara was our Fall 2013 featured artist and we have sold out of our seasonal supply of his book, but you can purchase direct from the artist. For more info, click here.