Earlier this year, the Anthony Angel Collection became available for research. The collection contains around 60,000 black-and-white photographs of New York City, chiefly Manhattan, taken between 1949 and 1967.
Angel was born Angelo A. Rizzuto (1906-1967) and listed in the 1910 U.S. Census as Angelino Rizzuto, as Tony Rizzuto in 1920, and as Angelo A. Rizzuto in 1930 and 1940. When Rizzuto bequeathed his work to the Library in 1967 he wanted it to be known as The Anthony Angel Collection, with Anthony Angel being an “Americanization” of Angelo Antonio.
Settling in New York City after growing up in Omaha, Nebraska, Angel spent many years photographing New York City for a book he hoped to publish titled “Little Old New York.” The book was never completed.
I have enjoyed learning about the collection by looking at both the digitized photographic prints and the undigitized contact sheets that are accessible for browsing in the Prints and Photographs Reading Room, such as these two from September of 1958.
If you look at enough of Angel’s work, you can see some recurring themes – cats and dogs, children, storefronts, people on the subway and in train stations, and nuns. The photos below are two of my favorites of nuns from the many that Angel took.
I came to appreciate Angel’s framing of images. He used architectural elements such as railings, lamp posts, and windows as compositional elements in his photos. In the examples below, the gaps in a stone railing and elevated train tracks draw the viewer’s eye to the human subjects.
I like to find connections between P&P collections. When I saw this photo of the S.S. United States taken by Angel in November of 1964, I thought of a travel poster featuring the same ship from our collection of over 85,000 Artist Posters.
We recently shared a selection of the photos on Flickr, where viewers expressed enjoyment – and appreciation for Angel’s eye for a good cat picture.
In 1972, the Library published a booklet titled Angelo Rizzuto’s New York: “In Little Old New York, by Anthony Angel.” In it, Jerald Maddox, former Curator of Photography, described the special qualities of Angel’s work in depicting life in the city:
…and while he may not have found the most dramatic or unusual subjects, his persistence gave him an ability to select, describe, and record what might be called incidents of normality, singular events resulting from ordinary individuals passing and sometimes meeting and interacting on the streets, and the way in which all of this is formed in and by the city environment.
- See the digitized Anthony Angel photos in the Prints and Photographs Online Catalog.
- Enjoy the Anthony Angel’s New York City album on the photosharing site Flickr.
- Read a Picture This blog post on the processing of the Anthony Angel Collection.
- Take a tour of the world with an overview of travel posters from the Library’s collections.