The New York Pigeon is a photography book that reveals the unexpected beauty of the omnipresent pigeon as if Vogue magazine devoted its pages to birds, rather than fashion models. In spite of pigeons' ubiquity in New York and other cities, we never really see them closely and know very little about their function in the urban ecosystem. This book brings to light the intriguing history, behaviour and splendour of a bird that we frequently overlook. The New York Pigeon reveals the unexpected beauty of our omnipresent pigeon. Employing exquisite portraiture that one might find in a fashion magazine, the book features this underappreciated urban bird in a fresh, glamorous light.
Finally, the much-maligned pigeon gets its 15 minutes. "stool pigeon..." "rats with wings..." Why? What did pigeons ever do to deserve such disrespect? (They mind their own business, they saved lives in World War I and II, and they're beautiful to boot.) Andrew Garn seeks to right this egregious wrong – through his keen eye, the pigeon is photographed in all its unexpected glory – elevated to its rightful place as a wondrous being of beauty and grace, soaring though time and space. You will never look at pigeons the same way again. In spite of pigeons' ubiquity in New York and other cities, we never really see them closely and know very little about their function in the urban ecosystem. For many New Yorkers, pigeons are the "gateway drug" to nature.
The result of eight years of passionate inquiry, The New York Pigeon is a photographic study of the birds' power and allure. The dramatic, hyper-real individual studio portraits capture their personalities, expressiveness, glorious feather iridescence, and deeply hued eyes. High-speed strobe photography illustrates the pigeons' graceful flight and dramatic wing movements. While The New York Pigeon is primarily a photography book, it also tells part of the 5,000-year story of the feral pigeon and their long association with humans. How did Harvard psychologist B.F. Skinner teach pigeons to do complicated tasks, from tracking missile targets to recognizing individual human faces? How do pigeons find their way back home from hundreds of miles away?
The New York Pigeon lovingly describes and illuminates the wonder of nature alive in our midst. With this book, the beautiful, savvy, graceful, kind pigeon will be invisible no more.
Andrew Garn is a native New Yorker who grew up oblivious to pigeons, despite being surrounded by them. After visiting a pigeon coop and a subsequent awakening in 2008, he has been photographing, rehabilitating and observing Columba Livia on a daily basis. He has exhibited photographs, video installations and sculptures of pigeons at A.M. Richard Fine Art in Brooklyn, NY and OK Harris. Documenting the entire spectrum of development, including full-grown pigeons, newborns, babies and “squeakers”. He has grown to love these birds.
Garn is a fine art and editorial photographer whose work has been widely exhibited and appeared in the pages of numerous magazines including the New York Times Magazine, Fortune, Forbes, Interview, Vogue, Vibe, Time, Newsweek, Der Spiegel, French Photo, Elle Décor, New York and Bloomberg LP. He is also the recipient of grants from the New York State Council on the Arts, the Graham Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the J.M. Kaplan Fund. He was awarded a Fulbright scholarship in 2013 for his work documenting Stalin-era industrial plants in Siberia.
His previous books include Exit to Tomorrow: The History of the Future (Rizzoli, 2007), Subway Style: Architecture and Design of the NYC Subway (Stewart, Tabori & Chang, and the MTA, 2005), winner of New York Society Book Award, The Houseboat Book (Rizzoli/Universe, 2003), and Bethlehem Steel (Princeton Architectural Press, 2000).
Rita McMahon is the founding director of the Wild Bird Fund, New York City's only wildlife rehabilitation and education center. The non-profit veterinary facility treats over 5,000 birds a year.
Emily S. Rueb is an editor for the New York Times metropolitan section. She writes regularly on avian subjects and was the creator of Bird Week and the "Hawk Cam" which chronicled the lives of a red-tailed hawk family in Washington Square Park.