Photographer Fred W. McDarrah has become a legendary figure for capturing the spirit of the city throughout his decades of work as the Village Voice's main staff photographer. In addition to photographing the changes in Greenwich Village through the era of the Beats, the bohemians and Bob Dylan, he also bore witness to the Stonewall riots and burgeoning LGBTQ rights movement. His photos exploring all of this will be the subject of two exhibitions at the Museum of the City of New York starting this week.
The Voice of the Village: Fred W. McDarrah Photographs, will be on view at the MCNY from June 6th through December 1st; it examines New York City from the tumultuous 1960s to the dawn of the 1970s, and includes images of cultural icons such as Allen Ginsberg, Bob Dylan, and Andy Warhol "with a particular focus on the agitation for civil rights and anti-Vietnam War demonstrations."
Also starting on June 6th and running through December 31st, the museum will also host PRIDE: Photographs of Stonewall and Beyond by Fred W. McDarrah, as part of the national celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall uprising. That exhibit includes images of the Stonewall uprising, portraits of significant figures in the LGBTQ rights movement, and photographs of pride marches, protests, and public events for the LGBTQ community.
Here's what the museum wrote in the intro for the PRIDE exhibit:
The year 2019 marks the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall uprising, when lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender patrons of the Stonewall Inn bar and their allies in the surrounding Greenwich Village neighborhood fought back against a routine police raid on June 28, 1969. Not only was “Stonewall” a pivotal moment in the LGBT movement, but its commemoration one year later, in the form of Christopher Street Liberation Day, marked the beginning of annual pride marches in New York City and around the world.
Fred W. McDarrah, photographer for the Village Voice, was one of the only people to capture images of the six days of protests and confrontation in front of the Stonewall Inn. The Voice covered the event not because it was particularly friendly to the LGBT community, but because it shared a block with the Stonewall Inn, and McDarrah was dedicated to covering the downtown scene in general. But after Stonewall, McDarrah continued to photograph pride marches and LGBT life in New York. The photographs on view here show pride marches spanning the first 25 years after Stonewall and capture diverse participants marching exuberantly alongside thousands of others in celebration of gender and sexual identity on the streets of the city. They also draw attention to the hard-fought victories, losses, and ongoing discrimination that LGBT people face amidst continuing struggles for equality.
McDarrah also captured the moment when a bartender at Julius' Bar in Greenwich Village put his hand over a glass after refusing to serve a trio of gay rights activists, who informed the bartender of their sexual orientation during a protest of bars that were refusing to serve openly gay customers at the time.
— New York Community Trust (@NYCommTrust) April 21, 2016
When McDarrah died in 2007, at the age of 81, the NY Times wrote, "He famously shot a generation of young hopefuls who had come to New York to make their reputations — hopefuls named Kerouac and Warhol and Dylan and Joplin. As a photojournalist, Mr. McDarrah chronicled the city in all its postwar bohemian splendor. He shot jazz clubs and coffeehouses; concerts and poetry readings; sit-ins, be-ins, love-ins and teach-ins. He captured famous faces, like Norman Mailer and William S. Burroughs; now-vanished places, like the Peace Eye Bookstore on Avenue A; and historic moments, like the Stonewall uprising in 1969. Among his best-known images is a 1965 portrait of Bob Dylan in Sheridan Square, dressed all in black and saluting the camera."
McDarrah's work was previously featured at the Steven Kasher Gallery last year—you can see more of his photos here.