Merry Alpern

About

Merry Alpern is a contemporary American photographer known for her controversial oeuvre and utilization of surveillance photography. Her acclaimed series Dirty Windows (1995) contains voyeuristic black and white images of men and women engaging in sex, doing drugs, and dressing or undressing at a low-rent brothel near Wall Street in Manhattan. “Although the notion of the ‘female gaze’ has never really interested me, as a woman I could project some of my own experiences onto the pantomime in the window,” the artist remarked on the series. Born on March 15, 1955 in New York, NY, Alpern studied sociology at Grinnell College in Iowa, but returned to New York before graduating in order to pursue photography. Because of Dirty Windows, she became one of the artists criticized by congress members who sought to defund the National Endowment of the Arts, along with Andres Serrano and Barbara DeGenevieive. The controversy sparked interest in the series, and would catapult the photographer’s career. Today, her works are in the collections of The Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Baltimore Museum of Art, and the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York, among others. Alpern currently lives and works in New York, NY.

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