Sylvia Plachy

“She makes me laugh and she breaks my heart. 
She is moral. She is everything a photographer should be.” —Richard Avedon



INsight Artist, 2009

“In a Photograph, you cannot peel back the shades of gray; below the emulsion is whiteness: the alchemy is in the coating.” —Sylvia Plachy

Sylvia Plachy immigrated to the United States from Hungary with her parents in 1958, and started photographing in 1964. Her evocative photography is acclaimed as diverse, surprising, and humorous, transforming the elusive into the poetic. 

Although perhaps best known for pictures in theVillage Voice, her work has appeared in over 50 major publications. In the forward to her book Signs and Relics (The Monacelli Press, 1999), filmmaker Wim Wenders writes “It showed me that photographs can do all sorts of things that I never thought of.”

Other books include Unguided Tour (Aperture, 1990), for which she won an ICP Infinity Award, Self Portrait with Cows Going Home (Aperture, 2004), which won a Golden Light Award, and Red Light (Thunder’s Mouth Press, 1996), a groundbreaking work on the sex industry. Andre Kertesz, her mentor and compatriot said of her work, “I have never seen the moment sensed and caught on film with more intimacy and humanity.”

Sylvia Plachy has been awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship and a CAPS Grant. She has exhibited internationally and her work is in multiple collections including MOMA NY and SF, the Museum of Fine Arts Houston, and the Bibliotheque Nationale.