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Guide to the Stella Snead Photograph Collection
1972-89, undated
 PR 185

New-York Historical Society
170 Central Park West
New York, NY 10024
Phone: (212) 873-3400


© 2011 New-York Historical Society

Collection processed by Andrea Walton

This finding aid was produced using the Archivists' Toolkit on April 14, 2017
Description is in English.

Descriptive Summary

 
Title: Stella Snead Photograph Collection
Dates: 1972-89, undated
Abstract: Stella Snead was a British Surrealist painter and collage artist; later becoming a photographer noted for books on India. She documented the streets and neighborhoods of New York City where she lived for many years. The collection spans the period from 1972-89 and consists of 133 gelatin silver photographs divided into four areas of interest: Architectural Elements (66); Brooklyn Bridge (8); Central Park (10); Lincoln Center Towers Construction (48); Street Scenes (1).
Quantity: 0.4 Linear feet (1 box)
Material Specific Details note: The collection consists of 133 gelatin silver photographs stamped on the verso with the photographer's own stamp. In addition, Snead assigned her own ordering system to the photographs indicating the project abbreviation, roll film number, frame number, contrast filter number, and exposure times. Each print is inscribed with this information in varying degrees on the verso.
Call Phrase: PR 185

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Biographical Note

Stella Snead was born in England in 1910 and died in New York in 2006. She was a British Surrealist painter and collage artist who fled wartime Europe to work in the United States; later becoming a photographer noted for books on India. She studied with the French abstract painter Amede Ozenfant (who opened an art school in London in 1936) and Henry Moore. The English surrealist painter Leonora Carrington was a fellow student and a close friend.

Known as a painter for fifteen years, Snead's works were said to be "amongst the most interesting of the strong Surrealist movement in England in the 1930's and 1940's." Migrating to America in 1939 at the outbreak of war against Germany, Snead lived in New York then Taos. During that period she had eleven solo exhibitions in the United States and Europe. In 1949, her work was included in the prestigious Carnegie International exhibition in Pittsburgh. In the 1950's Snead abruptly stopped painting, later writing that the reason was depression. In 1956 she began taking photographs while traveling in the Americas, Asia, the Middle East, Africa, and Greenland. While living in India throughout the 1960's, she took photographs of street life, nature and Hindu sculpture. In the 1960's and 70's, Snead created collages from cut-up pieces of her own photographs. In the late 1980's, after a hiatus of more than three decades, she began painting again, making copies from photographs of old paintings that had been lost or stolen. Recognition returned towards the end of her life. In 2006, a painting from the 1940's was included in "Surrealism USA," a major survey of American Surrealists at the National Academy Museum in New York.

Her photographs are in the permanent collections of the Victoria and Albert Museum, the International Center of Photography and Harvard University Archive. Among the galleries she exhibited in were the Institute of contemporary Art and Kodak House, London; Lincoln Center, Donnell Library, CFM Gallery and Pavel Zoubouk Gallery; New York City; Gallery Chemould, Bombay. She published eight books of photography including Shiva's Pigeons: An Experience of India (Alfred A. Knopf, 1972);  Animals in Four Worlds: Sculptures from India (University of Chicago Press, 1989);   Drowning Can be Fun? A Nonsense Book (Pont la Vue Press, 1992);  Beach Patterns (Clarkson Potter, 1975);  Children of India (Lothrop, Lee & Shepard, NY, 1965);   The Talkative Beasts (Lothrop, Lee & Shepard, 1971);  Seven Seven (Folder Editions, NY, 1965);   Ruins in Jungles (Hamish Hamilton, London, 1962).

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Scope and Content Note

The Stella Snead Photograph Collection spans the period from 1972-89 and consists of 133 gelatin silver photographs. The collection is divided into four areas of interest: Architectural Elements (66); Brooklyn Bridge (8); Central Park (10); Lincoln Center Towers Construction (48); Street Scenes (1).

The photographs of architectural elements document the carved ornamentation on the buildings of Snead's Upper West Side neighborhood. Manhattan neighborhoods range from Madison Avenue to St. Marks place including Alwyn Court at 58th Street at 7th Avenue, the Ansonia Hotel at West 73rd and Broadway, the Gotham Hotel at 55th Street and 5th Avenue, the Dakota Apartment building's Neptune railing, and the Upper West 70's, including the Museum of Natural History. The collection also contains photographs of the West Village, Jefferson Market Library at 6th Avenue and 10th Street and the West Side Highway.

Brooklyn Bridge photographs document the bridge in 1982, highlighting the bridge's structural details and features views that include the Manhattan skyline, the World Trade Center Towers, a tugboat in the river, the bridge's pedestrian walkway and the docks.

Central Park documents people and their pets enjoying the park with their bicycles, juggling, playing Frisbee, walking, sitting on park benches and conversing. The Bethesda Fountain is featured in one image. The photographs also serve as a portrait of early 1970's hairstyles and fashion.

The Lincoln Center Towers Construction folders document the site excavation and the rise and construction of the towers as seen from Snead's apartment from 1984-1989. Images feature construction workers, sidewalk observers, equipment (cranes, piping, fencing, rigging and cables), the plaza at Lincoln Center (the Metropolitan Opera, Henry Moore's sculpture, the Vivian Beaumont Theater, Julliard) as well as elevated and street views. The changing profile of the skyline can be considered a series in itself within these folders.

Street Scenes contains one image of 57th street on a rainy day.

Arrangement

The photographs are arranged by subject.

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Access Points

Document Type

  • Gelatin silver prints

Subject Topics

  • Architecture -- New York (State) -- New York -- Details -- Photographs.
  • Brooklyn Bridge (New York, N.Y.) -- Photographs.
  • Brownstone buildings -- New York -- Photographs.
  • Decoration and ornament, Architectural -- New York (State) -- New York -- Photographs.

Subject Places

  • Central Park (New York, N.Y.) -- Photographs.
  • Upper West Side (New York, N.Y.) -- Photographs.

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Administrative Information

Provenance

Gift of the photographer, February 13, 2002.

Access Restrictions

Open to qualified researchers.

Photocopying undertaken by staff only. Limited to twenty exposures of stable, unbound material per day. See guidelines in Print Room for details.

Use Restrictions

Permission to reproduce any Print Room holdings through publication must be obtained from:
Rights and Reproductions
The New-York Historical Society
170 Central Park West
New York, NY 10024
Phone: (212) 873-3400 ext. 270
Fax: (212) 579-8794

Preferred Citation

This collection should be cited as: The Stella Snead Photograph Collection 1972-1989, PR 185, Department of Prints, Photographs, and Architectural Collections, The New-York Historical Society.

Related Material at the Department of Prints, Photographs, and Architectural Collections

Other collections containing architectural elements and New York City street life from a similar time period can be found in the John Albok Photograph Collection (PR 001), the Geographic File (PR 020), the Photographer File (PR 050), the Subject File (PR 068), the Ruth Orkin Photograph Collection (PR 190) and the Andreas Feininger Collection (PR 207).

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Container List

Architectural Elements

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Box: 1 Folder : 1 Miscellaneous and Unidentified
undated
Box: 1 Folder : 2 Alwyn Court (58th at 7th Avenue)
undated
Box: 1 Folder : 3 Upper Eastside - East 52nd - 104th Street
undated
Box: 1 Folder : 4 Upper Westside - West 67th - 74th Street
undated
Box: 1 Folder : 5 Upper Westside - West 70's,West 73rd - 77th Street
undated
Box: 1 Folder : 6 Upper Westside - West 84th Street, 85th Street
undated
Box: 1 Folder : 7 Upper Westside - Central Park West, The Dakota, The Museum of Natural History
undated
Box: 1 Folder : 8 West Village
undated

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Brooklyn Bridge

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Box: 1 Folder : 9 Miscellaneous
1982

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Central Park

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Box: 1 Folder : 10 Miscellaneous
1972

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Lincoln Center Towers Construction

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Box: 1 Folder : 11 August - September
1984
Box: 1 Folder : 12 November - December
1984
Box: 1 Folder : 13 Summer - December
1984; undated
Box: 1 Folder : 14 March
1989; undated
Box: 1 Folder : 15 April - June
1989

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Street Scenes

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Box: 1 Folder : 16 57th Street
undated

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