Happy 100th Birthday, Milton Rogovin!

December marks the one hundredth birthday of an extraordinary ordinary man, the American social documentary photographer Milton Rogovin. Mr. Rogovin began his career as an opthamologist but soon took an interest in photography. In the 1940s, he and his wife Anne became increasingly involved with civil rights and pro-labor movements, as well as raising money to defend accused spies Ethel and Julius Rosenberg. In 1957, Mr. Rogovin was called before the House Committee on Un-American Activities and was identified with the Communist political party. Publicly ostracized and finding it difficult to survive financially, Mr. Rogovin turned to the camera as his primary vehicle for expression. His commitment was, he says, to represent “the forgotten people of the world.” He is best known for his series of images capturing the struggles, as well as the vitality, of a neighborhood on the lower west side of Buffalo, New York, and returned, over several decades, to photograph some of the same people. The two pictures illustrated here depict the same couple, photographed in 1974 and again in 1984. 

In 2008, Wes and Julie Nichols made a generous gift to the museum of twenty-five of Mr. Rogovin’s photographs, the first works by the artist to join the collection.  A small selection will be included in the exhibition New Arrivals: Works from the Collection (February 12 – April 4, 2010). 

Mr. Rogovin, we salute you in your centenary year, not only for your accomplishments but also for your great empathy toward humankind. 

More information about Milton Rogovin is available on his website: http://www.miltonrogovin.com/

Rogovin-1Rogovin-2
(right) Untitled from the series Lower West Side, 1972
Milton Rogovin (American, b. 1909)
Gelatin silver print
Gift of Wes and Julie Nichols, 2008
2008.53.1

(left) Untitled from the series Lower West Side, 1984
Milton Rogovin (American, b. 1909)
Gelatin silver print
Gift of Wes and Julie Nichols, 2008
2008.53.2

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