City Museum presents 1960s Coney Island photos

Photos by Aaron Rose, courtesy of Museum of the City of New York

Brooklyn Daily Eagle

The Museum of the City of New York in Manhattan is presenting “In a World of Their Own: Coney Island Photographs by Aaron Rose, 1961-1963,” the first exhibition of the photographer’s images of sunbathers and swimmers at Brooklyn’s most famous beach.

The diversity of people --and what they are doing -- is immediately arresting, as the photographs capture intimate portraits of regular and uninhibited New Yorkers in a world of their own.

Featuring 70 unseen photographs, the exhibition will include one section showcasing individuals and couples and another featuring the crowded beach and onlookers on the Coney Island boardwalk.

“In a World of Their Own” opens Friday, May 9, and will remain on view until Sunday, Aug. 3.

Paul Goldberger once compared Aaron Rose’s work to “Emily Dickenson’s poems inside her trunk in Amherst, a trove of art as yet unseen by the public.” The City Museum displayed Rose’s work once before, in “The Last Days of Penn Station: Photographs by Aaron Rose” in 2002.

“In a World of Their Own” is made up entirely of photographs of beachgoers, escaping what were, in all likelihood, non-air-conditioned apartments for a few hours of sand and waves. When viewed together, Rose’s photographs showcase the rich mix of races, ethnicities, sexualities and body types on display on the sandy landscape of Coney Island — described by noted photography critic Vince Aletti as “a place where privacy is a state of mind.”

As Aletti has described, Rose’s Coney Island photographs are remarkably intimate portraits of people relaxing as if in the privacy of their own homes: “Roaming the Coney Island beach, Rose was careful not to burst that bubble. Always moving, holding his camera at his side, and looking anywhere but at his subjects, he was able to catch people at ease and unaware, often at close range.”

Rose was born in New York in the early 1940s and has lived in the city for his entire life. For more than 60 years, Rose has explored not just the city, but also the basic elements of photography, light and chemistry to create a unique style of visual imagery. Rose had already produced more than 25,000 photographs when he was discovered by the art world in the

1990s. His photographs were hidden from everyone except close friends and family until he was asked to show a small selection of photographs at the Whitney Biennial in 1997.

The Museum of the City of New York is located at Fifth Avenue and 103rd Street, Manhattan. For more information, visit

May 8, 2014 - 2:15pm



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