Tyler Mitchell, Who Photographed Beyoncé for Vogue, Is Getting a Full-Blown Museum Show at the International Center of Photography’s New Flagship

The ICP is opening its third home in five years.

Tyler Mitchell, Untitled (Group Hula Hoop), 2019. Photo ©Tyler Mitchell.
Tyler Mitchell, Untitled (Group Hula Hoop), 2019. Photo ©Tyler Mitchell.

The International Center of Photography has a new home—again.

The photography institution in New York is settling into its third headquarters in five years, preparing to open the doors of its new Lower East Side flagship at Essex Crossing on January 25. The inaugural exhibitions—a wide-ranging and action-packed lineup—aim to capture the diversity of the medium.

The space is launching with solo shows of work by Tyler Mitchell, the fast-rising photographer best known for shooting Beyoncé’s Vogue cover in 2018, and James Coupe, whose work focuses on high-tech surveillance. Also on tap is an overview of hip-hop portrait photography, and—in honor of the neighborhood—a selection of photographs from the museum’s collection documenting life on the Lower East Side during the mid-20th century.

The move to 79 Essex Street brings the institution’s school and the museum together under one roof—with 40,000 square feet of space—for the first time in some 20 years. (The school was previously in Midtown, across the street from the museum’s former home.) The building, designed by Gensler, boasts classrooms, darkrooms, and other facilities for photographers, as well as a research library, a shop, café, public event spaces, and, of course, exhibition galleries.

“ICP is entering an exciting new era,” said the museum’s director, Mark Lubell, in a statement.

Weegee, <em>Norma Devine is Sammy's Mae West</em> (1944). Photo ©Weegee/International Center of Photography.

Weegee, Norma Devine is Sammy’s Mae West (1944). Photo ©Weegee/International Center of Photography.

“The Lower East Side: Selections from the ICP Collection” offers fascinating snapshots of this vibrant immigrant neighborhood from photographers including Jacob Riis and Weegee, many of whom lived there themselves.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, viewers will have the opportunity to become part of “James Coupe: Warriors“—if they agree to have their faces recorded and analyzed. Through the (deeply unsettling) magic of deepfakes, Coupe will alter the cult classic film The Warriors in real time, replacing faces of gang members in the film with those of museumgoers who have been algorithmically categorized and assigned to different characters based on demographics and personality, as perceived by AI.

Rounding things out are “Tyler Mitchell: I Can Make You Feel Good,” featuring the 24-year-old who in 2018 was tapped by Beyoncé to become the first African American photographer to shoot the cover of Vogue, and “Contact High: A Visual History of Hip-Hop,” organized by Los Angeles’s Annenberg Space for Photography and covering the music genre’s influence on fashion, politics, and race relations, as well as the music industry.

The new International Center of Photography at Essex Crossing. Photo by Saul Metnick.

The new International Center of Photography at Essex Crossing. Photo by Saul Metnick.

The past few years have been something of a roller-coaster ride for the institution. In March 2014, the museum announced that it was was not renewing the lease on the Midtown building it had called home since the 1980s. Six months later, ICP revealed that it had purchased a new home on the Bowery.

The old museum closed in January 2015, reopening at 250 Bowery the following June—but in the interim, rumors were already brewing that the museum was already planning a second move to the greener pastures of Essex Crossing.

The SHoP Architects-designed development complex on the Lower East Side, then still under-construction, was once slated to house a New York outpost for Pittsburgh’s Andy Warhol Museum, leaving an opening for a new cultural anchor. ICP, meanwhile, had long hoped to reunite its museum and school under one roof, which wasn’t possible at the Bowery location.

Barron Claiborne, <em>Biggie Smalls, "King Of New York"</em> (1997). Photo courtesy of the Annenberg Center for Photography.

Barron Claiborne, Biggie Smalls, “King Of New York” (1997). Photo courtesy of the Annenberg Center for Photography.

The move was officially announced in October 2017, and the museum’s short-lived spot on Bowery quietly shuttered in June. The space has since been sold for $25 million. The Essex Crossing site cost $29 million, according to Bowery Boogie.

General admission is rising from $14 to $16 with the move, but visitors 18 and under get in free; admission is also $3 for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)/EBT Card holders.


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