New York Times photographer Bill Cunningham has died

Much-loved documentary subject was 87.

by Anne-Katrin Titze

Bill Cunningham at Andrew Bolton's Manus x Machina exhibition
Bill Cunningham at Andrew Bolton's Manus x Machina exhibition Photo: Anne-Katrin Titze

The New York Times has reported that Bill Cunningham, the subject of Richard Press's 2010 documentary Bill Cunningham New York, died this Saturday, June 25, 2016 at the age of 87. He had been hospitalised recently after suffering a stroke.

I last saw Bill at The Metropolitan Museum of Art Costume Institute Manus x Machina: Fashion in an Age of Technology press preview on the first Monday in May of this year. He was his usual spry self then, stalking the mannequins as he did when he came upon an interestingly dressed person on the streets of New York to photograph. He was dressed in his trademark uniform - blue jacket, khaki pants and black sneakers.

Bill Cunningham capturing L’Eléphant Blanc dress by Yves Saint Laurent
Bill Cunningham capturing L’Eléphant Blanc dress by Yves Saint Laurent Photo: Anne-Katrin Titze

Over the years you could tell that he was downtown at the Union Square Farmers Market if you came upon a bicycle chained at the corner opposite Petco, next to the fruit stand. Even with this telltale clue, it was always a surprise when he appeared from out of nowhere to snap a picture.

Cunningham's usual hunting ground for subjects in New York was the corner of 57th Street and Fifth Avenue across from Tiffany's nearby where he used to live.

His columns On the Street and Evening Hours appeared regularly in The New York Times showcasing the styles and trends that he found noteworthy. Richard Johnson in his column on Thursday in the New York Post noted: "When the New York Times came out on Sunday with no photographs by Bill Cunningham for the first time in decades, it may have marked the end of an era."

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