Quite a different mode of documentary is to be found in the exhibition of portrait photographs by Timothy Greenfield-Sanders called ”New York Artists of the 50’s in the 80’s,” on view at the Pfeifer Gallery, 825 Madison Avenue at 69th Street (through April 24). Mr. Greenfield-Sanders, a recent graduate of Columbia College, has tracked down most of the surviving members of the New York School, persuaded them to sit (for what must have seemed an eternity) before the lens of his 75-year-old view camera, and produced a series of stunning pictures that at times recall us to the high-style portraiture of the Victorian masters.
Among the elders so brillantly and sympathetically portrayed in these pictures are the painters Richard Pousette-Dart, Willem de Kooning, Lee Krasner, Theodoros Stamos, Milton Resnick, Esteban Vicenti, Jack Tworkov and Robert Motherwell; the sculptors Louise Bourgeois, Herbert Ferber and Ibram Lassaw, and the photographer Aaron Siskind. The portrait of Mr. Pousette-Dart is especially fine – it reminded this observer of Alfred Stieglitz’s portraits of John Marin and Marsden Hartley – and certain other pictures (the ones of Mr. Stamos, say, and of Herman Cherry) achieve a quite uncanny intensity.
Mr. Greenfield-Sanders has a wonderful eye for faces and a subtle understanding of how their characteristic attributes may best be translated into the language of the photographic print. Even if we did not know who his subjects are, this would be a very affecting exhibition. But since the subjects are who they are, this show is also something of a historic event – and a moving one, too, for anyone who has lived through the period that it recalls.