About Oscar

Oscar Abolafia

The son of Sephardic immigrant parents, living on the “wrong” side of Broadway, where his father sold flowers and instilled life lessons , his mother hanging on to old values and traditions .Growing up in a 5th floor walk up apartment with artistic talented siblings, all struggling to make their mark,made for a colorful and challenging environment.

Magnum Photos

At a young age, he wanted to get away from this sometimes stifling home life, see more, experience more of the city he was born in and beyond. He found, thru a newspaper ad, a sympathetic ear in industrial photographer William Vandivert, one of the founders of Magnum Photos, who took him on as a assistant and showed him the ropes about technical and lighting skills. He traveled all over the United States but when it came time to fly on his own, there was not enough money for all the equipment.

West 46 street

He set up a small fashion studio on West 46 street, hung out with the Andy Warhol group, befriended Ultra Violet ( made a iconic poster of her with an American flag) and Viva and even talked her in taking her clothes off one evening to do a fabulous photo shoot. But still, money was too tight and he couldn’t pursue his dream any longer.

City life

With debts paid and 1 camera left, knowing the city streets and its secrets, the vibe and its ability to always renew itself, he recalled what Henri Cartier-Bresson said ” I’m not looking for the perfect moment, because there are no perfect moments” but what interested him was looking for something and seeing it happen!

Free love and flower power

And happening it was, 1965, the start of free love and flower power, the Beatles arriving in town for their appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show and their concert at Shea stadium, the year to start making a mark!

Now after 50 years

Looking back on his life, his work and his city, he recalls the triumphs, successes and failures. He has achieved most of his goals, and like the city he loves , he keeps kicking…and clicking.

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