Joseph Szabo’s Compelling Portraits of Teenage America in the ’70s and ’80s

Adored by the likes of Sofia Coppola and Dinosaur Jr. (check out the cover of Green Mind), Joseph Szabo’s revealing photos of teenagers hanging out at Jones Beach, Rolling Stones’ concerts, and in their Long Island bedrooms during the ’70s and ’80s are remarkably timeless. Self-conscious battles, restless longing, and guiltless bravado play out in Szabo’s pictures, which display an intimacy only a photographer who got to know his subjects up close and personal could demonstrate. The artist first photographed the students in his classroom as a way to break down the teacher/pupil barriers. Eventually he found himself at their parties and on the beach, where artist and subjects continued to connect.

Filmmakers George P. Pozderec and David Khachatorian provide insight into Szabo’s artistic evolution — and reveal the stories behind his images — in a new documentary, The Joseph Szabo Project. While the doc makes the festival rounds, The Heckscher Museum of Art in New York is exhibiting a retrospective of the Szabo’s work. Coming of Age in America: The Photography of Joseph Szabo consists of 54 black-and-white silver gelatin prints, taken between 1969 and 2007. The show opens on January 14 and runs through March 25. The museum was kind enough to share a preview of the exhibition with us, and we’ve posted a sneak peek for you past the break. Let us know your favorites below.


Joseph Szabo, Dawn in Her Room, 1985. Courtesy of the Artist and Gitterman Gallery, NYC.