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Victor Laredo





Victor Laredo (1910-2003) was an American documentary photographer and author. His black and white photographs of New York City were reproduced in 3 books. New York People and Places (Reinhold Pub. Corp. 1964), New York City a Photographic Portrait (Dover 1974), and Central Park, A Photographic Guide (Dover 1979).


His architectural photographs of Sephardic Spain were published in Life Magazine (Life International Edition 1967) followed by a book, (Sephardic Spain).


Laredo was exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art, The Museum of the City of New York, The Jewish Museum of New York, and the Brooklyn Museum

Family Background

   The Laredo family lived in Pergamon, Asia Minor, during the last days of the Ottoman Empire. Pergamon is famous for its Greco-Roman ruins, and reputed to have hosted the second largest library of antiquity, after Alexandria. Modern location: Bergama, İzmir Province, Turkey. The Laredo family was of Spanish Jewish decent, having lived as secret Jews under the Inquisition for nearly 200 years, they left Spain in the late 1600’s and moved to Tangiers, North Africa, branching off into Asia Minor in the 18th century.

Early Life

   Victor Laredo was born in 1910, oldest of three siblings, to parents, Morris and Anna Laredo. Morris was an inspector of weights and measures in the service of the Sultan of the Ottoman Empire. After the first world war ended and the Ottoman empire collapsed, the Laredo family emigrated to the United States in 1920, entering through Ellis Island New York. They settled in New Brunswick New Jersey, where Morris became a successful insurance salesman.



   Victor became estranged from his family by 1930 because of the conservative beliefs of Morris, conflicting with the artistic aspirations and left wing political convictions held of Victor. Moving to New York City in the early 30’s Victor attended the National Academy of Design, becoming a painter. Under the W.P.A. program Victor became an art teacher at the 96th street YMCA with fellow instructor and friend, Zero Mostel.



   Joining the American Merchant Marine service in 1940, Victor traveled the world while painting in his spare time. Upon the outbreak of World War Two, Victor stayed in the Merchant Marine throughout the war, and returned to New York City after the war ended. Losing his lifetime work of paintings in a house fire in 1946, Victor gave up painting and began to photograph in New York City in early 1947. One of Victor’s earliest photographs was a portrait of Cuban artist Carmen Herrera. In 1948 Victor met with Edward Steichen, the current curator of photography at the Museum of Modern Art. Steichen bought the portrait of Herrera, and included it in the upcoming show “In And Out Of Focus” at the Museum, on April 7 1948.


   Solo show at the Brooklyn Museum, September 12- October 23 1950.​

   During the 1950’s, Victor began accepting commissions from Harper’s Bazaar, Charm, Seventeen, the U.S. Camera Annual, and Helena Rubenstein. Between jobs, Victor began to document New York City, shooting with medium and large format cameras. In 1954 Victor took a studio space on the top floor of 10 East 8th street in Greenwich Village. Around the corner, on University Avenue, was the Cedar Tavern, the hangout for most of the painters that became known as the New York School. Victor was a frequent patron and met his future wife there, Carolynn Maldarelli (Lynn Laredo), a modern dancer and former student of Labon, creator of the dance notation method. Victor and Lynn were married in 1955 at the Ethical Culture Society. Their only child was born in 1956, Andre Laredo.


   By the early 60’s, Victor began documenting architectural details of older buildings in New York city, convinced that old-world craftsmanship was being replaced by modern architecture at an alarming pace. He presented the idea for a book project to the Reinhold publishing company. They suggested another idea, document the city as a whole entity. Victor agreed to the project and in 1961, began shooting the city full time until the publication of his first book, New York People and Places (Reinhold Pub. Corp.



1965 Victor accepted a commission from Life Magazine International to document the architectural remains of Spanish Jewish culture in Spain. After 2 years and several trips to Spain, the article appeared in the August 4 1967 edition of Life International. Laredo's work was featured in the 1967 photographic exhibition 'Sephardic Spain,' which was held at the Jewish Museum in New York City. The exhibition was also featured on the CBS television program, 'Look Up and Live.'

   After his marriage failed with Lynn Laredo, Victor met Bettie de Jong in 1968. Principal dancer and rehearsal mistress for the Paul Taylor Dance Company, Victor and Bettie lived together as man and wife for over 35 years until Victor’s death in 2003.


   The 1970’s saw the publication of 3 books by Laredo, New York City a Photographic Portrait (Dover 1974), Sephardic Spain (Editorial Mensaje 1978), and Central Park, A Photographic Guide (Dover 1979). Laredo created a vocational training program in Spanish Harlem in the late 70s providing photographic technicians to the industry.

Retirement-Old Age

   After the age of 70, Laredo returned to painting after more than 30 years. He continued shooting as well, spending a number of years shooting in Central Park, and working on a handmade camera project until his passing in 2003. He is survived by a son, Andre Laredo and granddaughter, Alexandria Laredo.


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