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Chronicler of NYC art scene can't give away his collection
For nearly forty years, photographer D. James Dee documented artwork and installations for seminal artists like Jean-Michel Basquiat, Julian Schanbel and prominent New York City galleries. Shooting everything from 35mm slides to 8 x 10 large format transparencies, Dee, like any responsible pro always shot one or two extra frames on each assignment to safeguard against film loss or damage. As he tells The New York Times in an interview, 'If they [the client] ordered 10 slides, I’d shoot 12. It was cheaper to shoot extras than to go back and reshoot. Instead of throwing them out, I put them in a box.'
It's that last line that's responsible for a roughly 250,000-image archive of color slides and negatives that chronicle the explosive growth of the Soho art scene of the 70s, 80s and 90s. He's now closing up shop and retiring to Miami, but having never made an attempt to categorize or even label his work by artist or gallery, he has so far found no takers for his offer to donate the archive.
Dee, who has no further interest in housing the collection is set to move at the end of July and if he doesn't find a willing taker soon, says, 'At some point I've got to get a Dumpster to put them in.' Who knows how this will play out. But one thing's for sure. It would make for an interesting Craigslist ad.
|D. James Dee has more than 250,000 remnants of his 39 years as a photographer documenting the work of modern artists.
Photograph: David W. Dunlap/The New York Times