The Eye of a Generation — Bernard Gotfryd: Portraits & Landscapes

On View August 17 – October 26, 2008

Bernard Gotfryd, David Ben-Gurion, 1971, gelatin-silver print, 14 x 11 inches. Courtesy the artist.

The exhibition, The Eye of a Generation — Bernard Gotfryd: Portraits and Landscapes, features the work of photographer, Holocaust survivor, and award-winning author Bernard Gotfryd. Known for his photographs of such iconic personages as David Ben-Gurion, Leonard Bernstein, and Primo Levi, among many others, his portraits chronicle an influential generation who helped shape the political and cultural events of the latter half of the 20th century. His fine art photographs of landscapes and interiors will also be on view.

Gotfryd was born in Radom, Poland where he decided at an early age to become a photographer. He was hired as an apprentice at a family friend’s photography studio shortly after World War II broke out, during which time he linked himself with the Polish resistance. He secretly acquired pictures of Nazi and Gestapo atrocities which were obtained from rolls of film dropped for processing and delivered them to the resistance. However, in October of 1943, he was deported to the Maidanek extermination camp; by the time of the Liberation in May of 1945, he had survived six different concentration camps. He emigrated to the United States two years later where he was drafted as an army combat photographer, and shortly thereafter embarked upon a 30-year career as a photojournalist for Newsweek.

Throughout his career, Gotfryd chose to shoot his pictures using natural light rather than relying on flash photography or artificial lighting. Armed with only a 35mm camera and several rolls of black and white film, he was able to capture the vitality of his sitter in a mere few minutes, filling his work with intensity, magnetism, and humor. His work also extends to more informal subjects which range from Southwestern landscapes to images focusing on semi-abstract, compositional elements, such as color and spatial relationships. His fine art photographs have been shown in galleries around the United States.

Bernard Gotfryd lives in Forest Hills, NY where he divides his time between writing, lecturing, photography, and gardening. He is the author of Anton the Dove Fancier and Other Tales of the Holocaust, an account of his experiences in the concentration camps.

As a member of the American Association of Museums, The Hebrew Home at Riverdale is  committed to publicly exhibiting its art collection throughout its 32-acre campus including the Derfner Judaica Museum and a sculpture garden overlooking the Hudson River and Palisades. The Derfner Judaica Museum + The Art Collection provide educational and cultural programming for residents of the Hebrew Home, their families and the general public from throughout New York City, its surrounding suburbs and visitors from elsewhere. The Home is a nonprofit, non-sectarian geriatric organization serving more than 11,000 elderly persons in greater New York through its resources and community service programs. Museum hours: Sunday – Thursday, 10:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. Art Collection and grounds open daily, 10:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. Call 718 581-1596 for holiday hours and to schedule group tours, or for further information please visit our website at

This exhibition is supported, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council.