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Factory photographer Nat Finelstein's retrospective at Shoreditch's Idea Generation

PUBLISHED: 10:00 21 January 2010 | UPDATED: 15:30 05 October 2010

Andy Warhol and Bob Dylan

Andy Warhol and Bob Dylan

PHOTOJOURNALIST, political activist, fugitive and veteran of the 1960s New York scene, Nat Finkelstein was one of the most respected photojournalists of modern times. Renowned for his iconic and intimate documentation of Andy Warhol s infamous Factory, an

PHOTOJOURNALIST, political activist, fugitive and veteran of the 1960s New York scene, Nat Finkelstein was one of the most respected photojournalists of modern times.

Renowned for his iconic and intimate documentation of Andy Warhol's infamous Factory, and later for his political activism including an allegiance with The Black Panthers that forced him to live abroad for 15 years, Finkelstein remained at the heart of the cultural zeitgeist up until his death last year aged 76.

A retrospective at Shoreditch's Idea Generation Gallery brings together Finkelstein's diverse portfolio of work achieved across five decades; from the Factory scenes, to the civil rights and anti-war protests of mid-60s America, to his continuing exploration of the subcultures of 80s and 90s New York.

Nat's photographs not only depict their subjects and scenes, but also provide a visual record of the life and times of the photographer himself.

It was after meeting Warhol and his band of freaks and followers at a Factory party in 1964 that Finkelstein was to take the most iconic images of his career; chronicling the scenes, names and faces of this underground world.

"I stayed at the factory for close to two years. I watched pop die, I saw punk being born. I participated in a cultural revolution that shook the superstructure of our society," he said before his death.

Finkelstein captured all the Factory's faithful inhabitants including Edie Sedgwick, Nico, Lou Reed and the Velvet Underground and Warhol himself, as well as the luminaries whose cultural factions merely collided with the Factory set including Salvador Dali, Allen Ginsberg, Marcel Duchamp and Bob Dylan.

Alongside his work at the Factory, Finkelstein became increasingly involved in the civil rights and anti-war protests of mid-sixties America. A staunch political activist himself, Finkelstein took pictures from beyond the barriers, depicting the spirit of a generation desperate to make a change, a stark contrast to his self-obsessed, fame-hungry Factory subjects.

"I was getting ready to go back into what I considered to be the real world, marching with, fighting for and reporting on the folk who were out there in the streets trying to build a better world for all and not newspaper space for themselves," he said.

Finkelstein's work hangs in the V&A, New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Pompidou Centre in Paris, Cologne's Ludwig Museum and the Smithsonian Institute, National Portrait Gallery in Washington DC, and has featured publications including Life, Time, Vogue, Rolling Stone, The New York Times Magazine, The Times, The Observer and Harper's and Queen.

Nat Finkelstein: From One Extreme to the Other is at the Idea Generation Gallery in Chance Street until February 14.

Opening times are noon-6pm Monday-Friday and noon-5pm Saturday and Sunday. Entry is free.


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