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Lucille Fornasieri Gold Photographs

By Dan Brenner

Posted on October 23, 2019

Lucille Fornasieri Gold, [Russian women in Brighton Beach], circa 1975, Digital image, V2008.013.16; Brooklyn Historical Society

Every photograph in Lucille Fornasieri Gold’s collection is a story unto itself. Case in point, the image above of an early morning scene on the boardwalk in Brighton Beach, a neighborhood alongside Coney Island on the southern shore of Brooklyn. Seated at two tables are four Russian women, collectively looking off into the distance at something out of frame. I wonder what it could be they are looking at.

In 1930, Lucille Fornasieri Gold was born in the Brooklyn neighborhood of Bay Ridge. Years later in 1968, she obtained a Leica camera and started photographing her surroundings. Inspired by the works of Lisette Modell and Henri Cartier-Bresson, she cast a wide net with her subject matter. From cityscapes to city parks, to the beaches of Coney Island where she photographed members of the local Polar Bear Club taking a chilly plunge into the Atlantic Ocean. With an artistic eye and innate ability to perfectly compose her surroundings through a camera lens, she captured beauty in the seemingly ordinary.

In the late 1960s, Gold lived in the Park Slope neighborhood of Brooklyn, developing film and making prints in a makeshift darkroom in her kitchen. After moving out she no longer had access to a darkroom, and it wouldn’t be until years later in the 1990s that she would go back and scan her negatives. In 2002, she devoted herself fully to her passion for photography, capturing even more images of daily life in Brooklyn. In 2008, former director of the library and archives Julie May played a major role in bringing Fornasieri Gold’s collection to Brooklyn Historical Society. In 2014, an exhibition entitled She said, She said opened at BHS which included forty-five of her photographs, along with paintings by Nell Irvin Painter inspired by her work. In 2016, Gold passed away while visiting her son in New Jersey.

This image comes from the Lucille Fornasieri Gold photographs (2008.013) and is also featured in our current Waterfront exhibition at BHS DUMBO! For more information on this collection, please see our finding aid here and for more photographs from this collection please visit our image gallery here.

Interested in seeing more photos from BHS’s collection? Visit our online image gallery, which includes a selection of our images. Interested in seeing even more historic Brooklyn images? Visit our Brooklyn Visual Heritage website here. To search BHS’s entire collection of images, archives, maps, and special collections; visit BHS’s Othmer Library Wed-Sat, 1:00-5:00 p.m. [email protected].

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