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Louis Stettner, Who Photographed the Everyday New York and Paris, Dies at 93
Louis Stettner, a photographer who explored the streets of the two cities he called his “spiritual mothers,” New York and Paris, recording the daily lives of ordinary people, died on Thursday at his home in Saint-Ouen, France. He was 93.
Mr. Stettner, a New Yorker, was a product of the Photo League and its emphasis on socially conscious, documentary work, exemplified by members and supporters like Weegee, Berenice Abbott and Robert Frank.
“I have never been interested in photographs based solely on aesthetics, divorced from reality,” he wrote in his photo collection “Wisdom Cries Out in the Streets,” published in 1999. “I also doubt very much whether this is possible.”
While living in Paris after World War II, he also found inspiration in a new wave of French photographers, including Robert Doisneau, Brassaï and Henri Cartier-Bresson, whose outlook seemed to dovetail with the league’s.
He was particularly taken with Brassaï. “Brassaï showed me that it was possible to find something significant in photographing subjects in everyday life doing ordinary things by interpreting them in your own way and with your own personal vision,” Mr. Stettner told The Financial Times in June.
With an unerring eye for the poetry of the everyday, he trained his camera on subway riders and pedestrians in New York — the unceasing human ebb and flow in the old Penn Station — and ordinary Parisians going about their daily rounds, like the woman walking her dog on a deserted and misty Avenue de Chatillon in 1949.
Always, his subjects seemed completely unaware they were being photographed, whether it was the chic woman reading, one elbow pointed outward, in “Elbowing Out of Town Newstand, NYC” (1954); the man lean
...His photographs are, he added “so quiet and undemonstrative, they appear inevitable.”....
[Continued at https://www.nytimes.com/2016/10/15/arts/design/louis-stettner-dead.html]