Editta Sherman Dies: Duchess of Carnegie Hall Known for Photographs

Image: Editta Sherman Dies: Duchess of Carnegie Hall Known for Photographs Left, Editta Sherman at the “25 CPW Gallery” in New York in 2012; right, Carnegie Hall.

Thursday, 07 Nov 2013 03:10 PM

By David Ogul

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Editta Sherman, a photographer known as the “Duchess of Carnegie Hall,” a moniker she earned in large part to her apartment and studio above the famed New York music venue, has died. She was 101.

Sherman was known for her unique photographs of musicians, actors, and other celebrities who came to the Carnegie Hall venue. She moved to the 12th-floor studio/home in at the venue in 1949 and photographed a cast of characters over six decades, including Henry Fonda, Andy Warhol, and Salvador Dali.

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“In that studio, she was right in the middle of a beehive of activity on top of Carnegie Hall,” Josef Astor, a photographer and fellow tenant, told The New York Times.

Sherman described in an interview last year with The Awl how she landed the penthouse.

“I see a big ad in the paper – New York. It says, 'Live and work in Carnegie Hall.' And I thought, 'Well, I don’t understand that. I mean, if they have music there, why would they want people living there?' And my husband said, 'Well, we’ll go see them about it.' So he got up there, and there was this man that he saw. And he had a big studio, and he said that he was giving it up because he was going to California. He was a producer. The rent at the the time was like a couple hundred dollars, and it had skylights, and it was right by the elevator, so that it was a very good thing for me, because now with five children…”

The Times reported that several years after Andrew Carnegie completed the hall in 1891, he added more than 100 studios in two towers of 12 and 16 stories “to provide a haven for artists, writers and musicians and rental income for the concert enterprise downstairs.”

Sherman’s studio had originally been Carnegie’s office. Sherman used a wooden, 8-by-10 Kodak camera.

“Critics said her big negatives, imaginative poses and subtle light-and-shadow compositions caught her subjects’ moods and character,” the Times wrote. 

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