White Columns

The Bulletin Board Scenes from the New York Art World c. 1979

Photographs by Jerald Ordover

In the summer of 2009 at the 25th Street flea market in New York I purchased a group of approx. 100 black and white, 5” x 3 ½” photographs taken at openings, events and parties in the New York art world. The first image I saw was of Philip Glass performing solo in what looked like White Columns former gallery space on Spring Street.

The man selling the photographs didn’t know anything about the images or who took them. (There were maybe 300 photographs in total - many of the others were images of road trips and other family occasions.)

A handful of the images were stamped with the name ‘Jerald Ordover’ on the reverse, and a number were dated, all from 1979. Only a few were inscribed – in ink – with the names of the subjects. I recognized perhaps fifteen or twenty people depicted in other images, including Roberta Smith, Roselee Goldberg, Robert Mapplethorpe, Lawrence Weiner, Leo Castelli, Marian Goodman, Holly Solomon, Richard Serra, and Louise Bourgeois.

The rest I knew little or nothing about, nor who Ordover was. However a ‘google’ search revealed that Jerald Ordover died in 2008, and that he had been a prominent lawyer in the New York art world, with strong connections to Leo Castelli’s gallery and his artists, amongst many others. I subsequently showed the photographs to Artnet’s Walter Robinson and to Tony Shafrazi, who helped me identify more of the subjects. Roberta Smith told me that she remembered seeing Jerald at openings, always taking photographs.

I would imagine these photographs are fairly unusual, in that it seems unlikely that many other people were documenting the social milieu of the art world at this time. (By comparison with today’s digital photography and social networking sites the proliferation of such images has become ubiquitous.)

The photographs are presented in our Bulletin Board project space as a part of an occasional and ongoing series of displays at White Columns of ‘found’ photographs.

Where known, we have identified the subject(s), however, if you can identify any of the other subjects, please let us know.

- Matthew Higgs, Director, White Columns. January 2010.


Installation view

Installation view