series 1 - Bill Cunningham photographs, 1973

Alva Chinn for Halston

Identity area

Reference code

US NNFIT SC.387.1

Title

Bill Cunningham photographs, 1973

Date(s)

  • 1973 (Creation)

Level of description

series

Extent and medium

Seventeen framed photographs

Context area

Name of creator

(1929-2016)

Biographical history

William J. Cunningham, more commonly known as Bill Cunningham, was an American street photographer. Cunningham was born on March 13, 1929 in Boston. In middle school, Cunningham began creating hats out of objects found in dime stores. He was given a scholarship to Harvard but dropped out after only two months. He accepted an offer to move in with his uncle in New York, who hoped to persuade Cunningham to drop fashion and become interested in the family's advertisement agency. Upon receiving the ultimatum "stop making hats or move out," Cunningham left his uncle's apartment, relocating to a small ground-floor apartment on East 52th st. In addition to making hats, Cunningham briefly held a freelance position at Women's Wear Daily but quit in the early 1960s. In 1967, Cunningham got his first camera. He began taking photography assignments from "The Daily News" and "The Chicago Tribune." By the late 1970s, Cunningham was a regular contributor to the New York Times. Although asked several times by a number of newspapers and magazines, Cunningham refused to take a staff position. It was only after being struck by a truck while on assignment that Cunningham considered the Time's offer, stating that it was "a matter of health insurance." In 1993, the Council of Fashion Designers honored Cunningham, who biked onto the stage to accept his award. Cunningham was invited to Paris in 2008 to accept the French Legion of Honor. Bill Cunningham was the subject of a 2010 documentary "Bill Cunningham New York." Bill Cunningham passed away in June of 2016.

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Content and structure area

Scope and content

17 framed 18 x 16" black and white photographs of the American participants during the Grande Divertissement à Versailles.

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