A Photo That Captures a Busier Bygone Era in New York

In each installment of The Artists, T highlights a recent or little-seen work by a Black artist, along with a few words from that artist putting the work in context. This week, we’re looking at a picture by Andre D. Wagner, a photographer who focuses on capturing daily life in New York.

Name: Andre D. Wagner

Age: 34

Based in: Brooklyn, N.Y.

Originally from: Omaha, Neb.

When and where did you make this work? On the corner of 42nd Street and Broadway in Manhattan in March 2017.

Can you describe what’s going on in it? Policemen gather in the background, a street drummer plays with one shoe off, a tourist captures an image on a cellphone, two men walk past with mohawk hairstyles, two of three sisters wear matching coats and their brother engages the viewer — all while the Loft storefront lights drape over the scene like music notes.

What inspired you to make this work? In 2017, I spent as much time as possible each day roaming the streets, starting in my own neighborhood — Bushwick, Brooklyn — and always making my way to Manhattan and back. Forty-second Street, nicknamed the Deuce, is a staple when it comes to New York street photography. It’s a place where you can always find people and something happening. And as much as I love to take photographs all over New York, I always find myself coming back here. I’m inspired by all the greats who roamed these same blocks but also dealing with contemporary times and my own sensibility. I get most excited when life is fleeting and you don’t have time to think — you just have to trust your body and those God-given instincts.

What’s the work of art in any medium that changed your life? Robert Frank’s 1959 book “The Americans.”

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