Visionary of the Voice
Fred McDarrah, who died recently, photographed a generation of Jewish creative geniuses. Alex Kasriel pays tribute
FRED W MCDARRAH, a s e l f - d e s c r i b e d “square”, who died this month, aged 81, was responsible for some of the most seminal i mages of the 1960s. As a staff photographer for alternative New York newspaper The Village Voice, he captured the images of the counter-culture known as the Beat Generation, which included some great Jewish artists, singers, poets and writers such as Diane Arbus, Allen Ginsberg, Robert Rauschenberg and Leonard Cohen. His most enduring image is of Bob Dylan, shot in Sheridan Square Park i n 1965 to illustrate a music review in the Voice. Dylan is dressed in black and saluting. In 1970 he took a landmark photo of a young Dustin Hoffman, and another famous McDarrah photo, taken in 1967, is entitled Paul Thek Sitting Shiva for Dead Hippie. Born in Brooklyn of Catholic and Protestant descent, McDarrah bought his first camera at the 1939 World’s Fair for 39 cents. But he did not start taking professional photographs until he was a paratrooper in occupied Japan following World War Two.
Thanks to the GI Bill, he took a journalism degree at New York University, though when he joined the Voice in 1959 it was as an advertising salesman. He soon became the paper’s only staff photographer, and as the Voice grew he headed the department. He became known as the eyes of the Voice but he also photographed for his own book projects, starting with 1960s The Beat Scene and The Artist’s World in Pictures in 1961, followed by more than a dozen others.
McDarrah’s famous photograph of the young Bob Dylan taken in a New York park in 1965. Below: His shot of beat poet Allen Ginsberg