Milton Rogovin, 1909–2011

Anne and Milton Rogovin. Photo by Harvey Wang.

I just read at The Online Photographer that Milton Rogovin died today at the age of 101. A humanist to the core, Rogovin made his name photographing the residents of the hardscrabble Lower West Side area in his native Buffalo, New York. Returning to visit and rephotograph his subjects over the years with his beloved wife, Anne Rogovin, he ultimately produced a portrait of what became his extended family—ordinary working-class people he described as “the forgotten ones.” In 1999, the Library of Congress became the repository of Rogovin’s work, a collection that totals some 30,000 images.

I had the chance to interview Rogovin for PDN in 2003, for a preview of a major exhibition of his work at the New-York Historical Society. The show was titled “The Forgotten Ones” (earlier that year, Quantuck Lane Press published a monograph of the same name) and included interviews with David Isay and Dave Miller of Sound Portraits.

“Even though I knew I wouldn’t get any money out of this thing, I kept working because it was the thing that drove me—the idea of photographing these people,” Rogovin told me at the time. “And many of them later on said they were so grateful that I paid attention to them, that nobody paid attention to them.”

To learn more about Milton Rogovin, watch this lovely short documentary by photographer Harvey Wang.

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6 Comments

  1. Posted 01/18/2011 at 3:53 pm | Permalink

    What a wonderful post. Thank you, Kristina, for bringing Milton Rogovin’s work (and sadly, death) to the readers’ attention.

    He looks very dignified in Harvey Wang’s portrait, as does his beautiful wife, who looks perfectly poised, yet reveals herself as quite boisterous in Harvey’s wonderful documentary.

    Milton’s photography is powerful in its simplicity. It may not always have been easy for his subjects, but they are portrayed with utmost respect and humility.

    Kristina, keep up the good work! You make Stockland Martel’s blog a reliably interesting place to visit and learn new things from.

    • Posted 01/18/2011 at 4:19 pm | Permalink

      Thank you, Mary. And I could not agree more with your description of Milton’s photography. He was a special person, a rare kind of artist, and it’s a treat to be able to spend time with him (and Anne) through Harvey’s film.

  2. Posted 01/20/2011 at 5:31 pm | Permalink

    Thanks Kristina for posting this

    you should check out the wonderful piece that Fred Conrad of the NYT did on milton

    http://lens.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/08/07/showcase-milton-rogovin/

    it’s nice to see post like this, I agree with marry you make the blog a more interesting place

    • Posted 01/20/2011 at 5:38 pm | Permalink

      Thank you, Ian—for the link to Fred Conrad’s piece, for your very kind words, and for taking the time to read our blog.

      Kristina

  3. Posted 01/21/2011 at 11:10 am | Permalink

    Kristina-thanks for sharing my film with your readers. It was a privilege for me to have gotten to know Milton and Anne when I made the film, and assist Milton as he re-visited and re-photographed the people of Buffalo’s west side.
    -Harvey Wang

    • Posted 01/28/2011 at 12:38 pm | Permalink

      Harvey, what a treat to see your comment. I’ve been the proud owner of your book Harvey Wang’s New York for years (see pic). It was my pleasure to share your movie with our readers.
      —Kristina
      My copy of Harvey Wang's New York


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