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N. Jay Jaffee (American, 1921-1999)
Clouds and Harbor, 1991
Selenium toned gelatin silver photograph, 2-7/8 x 3-3/4 in.
Inscribed and signed in pencil, verso: 5/6 Clouds & Harbor, 5/91 / Frame #19 / LLOYD HARBOR, L.I. / Selenium Toned / N. Jay Jaffee.
Gift of Natasha and Noah Brenner.  1998.11.1

About This Work

The work of N. Jay Jaffee is rooted in social consciousness. Having taken up photography as a hobby upon returning from service in World War II, Jaffee documented 1950s life in Brooklyn and Lower Manhattan, often highlighting the individual's loneliness and isolation within society. Although largely self-taught, Jaffee constructed images with strong compositions. As early as 1950, Edward Steichen, then director of the photography department at the Museum of Modern Art, purchased three of Jaffee's photographs for the museum's collection and he included Jaffee in the exhibition 51 American Photographers, which focused on new talent. In 1985 Jaffee left New York City, moving to Lloyd Harbor on Long Island. There he rediscovered nature, a subject he had briefly explored in the late 1940s in rural Brooklyn. In the late landscapes, organic natural forms replace the geometry intrinsic to the man-made structures of the city. While devoid of the figures which are ubiquitous in so much of his work, the images of Lloyd Harbor and Caumsett nevertheless invoke a message to society of Jaffee's concern for the environment and our responsibility to protect it.


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