Sylvia Plachy

Sylvia Plachy

2004 Honoree: Outstanding Achievement for Women in Photography


Heri Cartier-BressonSylvia Plachy, a Hungarian-born photographer, immigrated to the United States with her parents in 1958, and started taking photos in New York in 1964. Over the next forty years, by recording the visual character of the city, along with its diverse occupants, she managed the significant and non-too simple accomplishment of becoming essential to the New York photography scene.

One of her enduring subjects has been her son, Oscar winner, Adrien Brody, “From the time he was born, Adrien was my favorite subject to photograph. I couldn’t take my eyes off him. Here was this vibrant little being; his emotions mirrored in his face,” says Plachy.

Andre Kertesz, her mentor, friend, and compatriot said of her work, “I have never seen the moment sensed and caught on film with more intimacy and humanity.”

Ms. Plachy has had one-woman shows at the Whitney Museum at Philip Morris, The Queens Museum, and The Minneapolis Institute of Fine Arts. She also has shown in Budapest, Ljubljana, Manchester, Berlin, Vancouver, Perpignan, Arles, and Pingyau, China. Her work is in the permanent collections of The Museum of Modern Art, The Queens Museum, The Brooklyn Museum in New York, The George Eastman House, The Center for Creative Photography at the University of Arizona, The Museum of Fine Arts in Houston, The Bibliotheque Nationale in Paris, and The San Francisco Museum of Fine Arts.

Additionally, Ms. Plachy is the recipient of a John Simon Memorial Guggenheim Fellowship. She is a regular contributor to The New Yorker, and her work has appeared in many publications, including Fortune, Grand Street, Art Forum, The New York Times Magazine, Harpers Magazine and Granta. For over eight years The Village Voice published a weekly uncaptioned, black and white photograph, of Plachy’s work under the heading: “Sylvia Plachy’s Unguided Tour,” which later became a book of the same title, (Aperture, 1990.)

Her new book, “Self-Portrait with Cows Going Home” (Aperture September, 2004), is an intensely personal photographic journey of Plachy’s childhood in Eastern Europe, and a celebration of her many years of superb image making.