Books | Edo Bertoglio: New York Polaroids 1976–1989

Photo: Mama’s bed, New York 1984

In October 1976, Swiss photographer and director Edo Bertoglio arrived in New York with Maripol, his partner and collaborator of six years. At that time, the city was in the middle of an economic crisis and as a result, downtown Manhattan was prime real estate for artists seeking to populate the recently abandoned industrial buildings. Studios began to spring up in lofts across Soho, and the neighborhood became the center of new bohemian life, with artists, musicians, writers, and actors gravitating to a new scene as it emerged.

Also: Exhibit | Peter Hujar: Lost Downtown

Hedy, New York 1978

He remembers, “…on a clear and cold afternoon, Maripol and I ran into one of those sudden strong gusts of wind that make you feel weirdly uncomfortable and estranged, kind of out of context. All of a sudden we hugged, with tears in our eyes, terrified by the metropolis, by our loneliness and the lack of stable work. Attempting to overcome our feelings, we walked right up to the 86th floor of the Empire State Building where the warmth of the light eventually welcomed us and showed to us the very essence of the city, the clouds, and the skyscrapers, the river and the ocean. It was certainly clear that New York was the only place where we wanted to stay. That city was going to be the luminous background of my photographs.”

Glenn & Kate, New York 1977

It was here that Bertoglio set up shop, shooting for Vogue Italia. As staff photographer for Andy Warhol’s Interview from 1978-82, Bertoglio was decidedly in the mix with a Polaroid in hand and a stellar subject list: Grace Jones, Debbie Harry, and Madonna, as well as underground legends Anya Phillips and Patti Astor. As he became involved in the downtown art and music scenes, Bertoglio became a force to be reckoned with. He, Maripol, and Glenn O’Brien collaborated on Downtown 81, a film starring then unknown Jean-Michel Basquiat, and featuring leading No Wave bands DNA, Tuxedo Moon, The Plastics, and James Chance and the Contortions, as well as Kid Creole and the Coconuts, Fab Five Freddy, and Deborah Harry in bit parts. Bertoglio’s instinctive ability to blend the personal and the professional brought an energy of unbridled intimacy that belies a romantic heart and a need to capture the fleeting beauty of the moment.

Girls next door, New York 1981

Photos: ©Edo Bertoglio

Miss Rosen is a New York-based writer, curator, and brand strategist. There is nothing she adores so much as photography and books. A small part of her wishes she had a proper library, like in the game of Clue. Then she could blaze and write soliloquies to her in and out of print loves.