“I never had trouble walking up to people and asking them to take their picture,” photographer Arlene Gottfried (1950-2017) told The Guardian in 2014. Largely unknown to the public for the majority of her career, it was her black-and-white photographs of New York in the 1970s-80s that first sparked an interest in her work. Looking at them, it’s clear that Gottfried had a way with people as well as with images. “Arlene had a way of looking at the world with curiosity and love that was distinctly her own,” says Daniel Cooney, who runs a gallery of the same name currently showing Gottfried’s work.
“Arlene had a unique vision of the world around her,” says gallerist Daniel Cooney. “She was kind and compassionate and she had a wonderful sense of humour, and all of it came through in her work. That’s what made her images so beautiful and unique.” Born in the Coney Island district of New York and growing up in the Crown Heights district of Brooklyn, Arlene Gottfried studied at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York and initially found work with an advertising agency before going freelance for publications such as The New York Times Magazine, Life, and Newsweek. But her true passion was for portraits shot on the fly, and often on the street, and it was for this work that she became celebrated.