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Staten Island Ferry

Louis Faurer (American, 1916-2001)

Staten Island Ferry, 1946, printed c. 1980

  • Gelatin silver print
  • 8 x 8 in. (20.3 x 20.3 cm)
  • The Jewish Museum, New York
  • Purchase: Judith and Jack Stern Gift, 2000-57

Not on view

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Staten Island Ferry

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Staten Island Ferry



Louis Faurer’s photographs reflect the energy and vitality of urban life in New York and Philadelphia during the 1940s and ’50s. Faurer frequently incorporates shadows, silhouettes, and reflections into his work to create complex, layered compositions. In Staten Island Ferry, for example, the primary subject—the New York City skyline—is shown reflected in the window of the ferry, along with the silhouettes of ferry riders (including the photographer himself). The shadowy figures seem isolated from each other and from the city itself. Although we can’t see her in the photograph, Lady Liberty also stands nearby. She gazes silently at the harbor and the ferry, just as she looked out over the arriving immigrant ships a few decades earlier.

Louis Faurer grew up in a Polish Jewish immigrant family in Philadelphia. In 1946, he began working in New York as a freelance fashion photographer. Throughout the rest of his career, Faurer also continued to take and exhibit his own non-commercial photographs.

Discuss:

  • What is the main focus of this photograph? What else do you see in the frame?

  • Where do you think this is? How can you tell? Where is the photographer positioned? What do you think is the significance of the placement of the photographer and of the figure on the left, nearly cut out of the image?

  • How has the photographer captured the image? What is the effect of the technique he uses?

  • Immigrants to New York in the first half of the 20th century were greeted not only by the Statue of Liberty but also by the sight of the New York City skyline, as in this photo by Faurer. Describe the view of New York from the harbor. How do you think an immigrant from a small town in Europe might have felt seeing this view for the first time?