The man sat down in the booth, pulled the curtain shut, posed, and waited for the click. He repeated the process at least 445 times over the course of 30 years, from the time of the Great Depression well into the 1960s.
Now, his impressive collection of photobooth snaps is unveiled for the first time at the Zimmerli Art Museum at Rutgers, as part of “Striking Resemblance: The Changing Art of Portraiture,” an exhibition on display through July.
Don Lokuta, a photography historian, stumbled on these images at an antiques show in New York in 2012. When the dealer told him there were hundreds more like them, he was stunned. “I knew this was very rare, but on a deeper level, I wondered, ‘Why would somebody want to take almost 500 photos of himself in a photobooth?’ he toldRutgers in an interview.
The snapshots themselves, seen as a collection, are startling: the same face etched into the silver gelatin prints over and over again. Sometimes he’s smiling, at times he looks stern, pensive, or inquisitive. These images force the viewer to seek out the minute differences in his expressions and aging appearance—the evolution from dark, slicked-back hair to a grayish white.