West view of Manhattan Bridge, Brooklyn, New York; November 1979. Courtesy of the National Building Museum, Â© Camilo JosÃ© Vergara.
A new exhibit showcasing 51 years of World Trade Center photographs opens at the National Building Museum in Washington, DC, in time for the 20th anniversary of the September 11 attacks next month.
Photographer Camilo JosÃ© Vergara’s work has received critical acclaim, earning the 76-year-old Chilean a McArthur Fellowship in 2002 and a Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2012.
View looking east across the Hudson River from Exchange Place, Jersey City, New Jersey; July 4, 1978. Courtesy of the National Building Museum, Â© Camilo JosÃ© Vergara.
Vergara began documenting the buildings immediately after moving to the city in 1970. At the time, the towers were almost complete (the north tower was completed two days before Christmas that year, the south tower followed in July. next), and young, subject-seeking Vergara in the haze of post-Vietnam War New York found them in the form of Minoru Yamasaki’s shimmering twin masterpieces.
West view of St Paul’s Chapel with the Twin Towers under construction, Broadway and Fulton Street, New York, New York; 1970. Courtesy of the National Building Museum, Â© Camilo JosÃ© Vergara.
âI followed the construction of the towers closely,â Vergara wrote in an accompanying exhibition essay. âAs they rose to become the tallest buildings in the world, I saw them as a savage expression of mistaken priorities in a time of turmoil. [â¦] Eventually my initial resentment faded and I grew to see them as great human creations. As I moved away to photograph the towers of remote neighborhoods, they seemed to lose their solidity and become mysterious, fantastic and alluring.
West view of St Paul’s Chapel with One World Trade Center under construction, Broadway and Fulton Street, New York, New York; 2011. Courtesy of the National Building Museum, Â© Camilo JosÃ© Vergara.
Vergara has since documented much of the remarkable changes the city has undergone since the late 20th century and sees the exhibit as a tribute to the city and its lost heroes.
âThere has been a lot of reconstruction and renewal since 9/11, and I have photographed the rise of new skyscrapers built around the memorial pools in honor of those who have died,â he said. . “This exhibition is dedicated to those who perished, to those who responded and to those who are rebuilding themselves after September 11, 2001.”
View west from Brooklyn Bridge capturing the annual 9/11 Tribute in Light, a commemorative art installation that recreates the shapes of the towers, Brooklyn, New York; 2017. Courtesy of the National Building Museum, Â© Camilo JosÃ© Vergara.
The exhibition The WTC towers: 51 years of photographs by Camilo JosÃ© Vergara opens September 4 and will run until March 6. An essay by Vergara commemorating the 10th anniversary of the tragedy can be found here.
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