George Forss: Street Peddler

By Debra Rueb

New York/New York is a book of black and white photographs made by George Forss, whom David Douglas Duncan discovered selling prints one day on the sidewalks of Manhattan. Awestruck by the masterful images he saw of New York City. Duncan spent four years collecting and arranging the photographs and writing the test for this book.
George Forss is a simple and poor man who taught himself photography with some instruction from his invalid mother, whom he lives with and cares for. Forss prints at night and by day sells his photographs on the sidewalk for $5 to $11 for mounted prints. Forss’ work of New York City is compared by Duncan to Ansel Adams’ work in Yosemite. Forss has attained a mystery of his craft; he has juxtaposed form and content, line and light to achieve a vision of New York that transcends all others. The photographs show the exposure of the city in the buildings, streets, and rivers. Through double exposure he creates a feel of the hustle of the city and the people, though he never focuses on photographing people.

This book is a true Cinderella story of a most man’s discovery and success in bringing his vision to the eyes of millions.