Saturday, June 25, 2011

Bill Cunningham's New York

We saw a documentary about Bill Cunningham last night at the glorious Detroit Film Theater, and I highly recommend it.

In his eighties now, Bill Cunningham is completely devoted to his work. Still riding his bike around Manhattan and taking pictures like this for the New York Times, the world of fashion calls to him as loudly as it did fifty years ago.

He literally does nothing but take pictures. He sleeps wedged between his file cabinets of photos dating from the fifties and turned his kitchen into storage space for more cabinets. Such a devotion to craft and art is exhilarating if a bit frightening.

Have you ever known someone like this--who eschewed family, friends, everything to pursue his craft? If so, what was that craft?


Chuck said...

I see this so often with my "older" clients. Hoarding appears to have become an epidemic. Some even rent several storage units to store their papers and other "treasurers." And yet, when they die, their decendents load up the demsey dumpster and into the land fill it all goes. Hopefuly, in this era of super fast scanners and cheap 500 GB hard rives, this fate will not await Mr. Cunningham. But even so, who will take the time to scan or even look at 60 years of photos. Apparently someone did.

pattinase (abbott) said...

He is a genuine eccentric.
However, most of his photos are in the New York Times--they are valuable but I can't quite see why he needs to keep them. It would be the equivalent of you keeping all the paperwork on every case you ever handled at home.
But the real thing is that he has no life beyond this. Seemed amazed to be asked about it even.

Charles Gramlich said...

No. I've heard about them but never met one in person. Well, I've met some hoarders. I don't think that's quite the same thing.

Deb said...

I hope his will is very clear about what will happen to his possessions. I've seen more than one appraisal on ANTIQUES ROADSHOW where the person who owns the item found it on the sidewalk when an apartment was being cleared out.

While I can clearly see that he has taken some wonderful photographs, I have to echo what Chuck and Charles said: my first thought was "hoarder." I know he's hoarding something that others also think is valuable (as opposed to, say, five decades worth of old newspapers), but when you're sleeping between file cabinets and you've turned your kitchen into a storage unit, you have a hoarding problem. Surely he could find an archive to take the photos, organize them appropriately, and store them in a controlled environment.

Yvette said...

I love Bill Cunningham. He will probably live to be a hundred riding his bike throughout NYC.

His strength and energy are amazing. As well as his devotion to his job.

I love watching the little videos as goes about his job highlighting fashion trends on the streets of Manhattan.

What a guy. :)

Once he's gone, that'll be that.

I don't worry or wonder why he is the way he is or why he does it.

Far as I'm concerned that's his business.

Some would say that fashion conscious women in NY dress for Cunningham in the morning. It wouldn't surprise me. :)