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Kaufman’s Brooklyn: Eight photos from the ‘Variety’ collection

October 2, 2020 Phil Kaufman
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My father, Irving Kaufman (1910 – 1982), was a professional photographer who started in Brooklyn in the mid 1930s working for the Brooklyn Daily Eagle. He captured thousands of images of Brooklyn through the 1950s. I have recently digitized a great many of them. My father’s profile can be found here.

This week’s theme:

I’ve been displaying a lot of pictures each week for the past couple of months. This week will be no exception. But many weeks have not had much variety. Last week is certainly the best example of that: over 40 portraits of women, mostly from the same time period and with a similar look. (I hope you found interesting variety in the subtleties of their faces, bearings, expressions; that was my intent.)

This week I will add variety to the quantity. Rather than a single theme for the week, I have a number of different categories, usually just one per day, but sometimes even some variation within a day. I hope the variety will add to the spice of life for you this week.

Today’s photos:

Today’s photos document an early example of the work of a remarkable sculptor. Inge Hardison had a long career (she lived to be 102), starting as a young actor on Broadway but transitioning to sculpting in her 20s. Her family moved to Brooklyn from Virginia not long after Inge’s birth in 1914. She graduated from Girls’ High School, c. 1932.

Ms. Hardison focused most of her work on famed African-American subjects including luminaries such as W.E.B. DuBois, Harriet Tubman, George Washington Carver, Paul Robeson, Jackie Robinson, Frederick Douglass, Sojourner Truth, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and many others. Most are displayed in museums, schools, universities, libraries, churches and other public spaces in the New York area.

She once explained her focus by saying: “I have been able to put within the experience of many schoolchildren, college students and adults those much-needed models of inspiration, and … encouraged [them] to try to make their own lives more meaningful.”

The work shown here is “Mother and Child,” which she created to donate to Mount Sinai Hospital in gratitude for the hospital’s role in the birth of her daughter, Yolande. (The birth was apparently complicated, but I did not come across any specifics.) My father did a lot of publicity and in-house photography for Mount Sinai, and no doubt that’s why he got the opportunity to visit her in her home at work on the statue, as well as cover its debut in the hospital in 1957.

Ms. Hardison was apparently well-regarded enough by 1957 that The New York Times (and perhaps other publications) covered the event. Despite that level of renown, the sculptor did this life-size work in her kitchen. Either she couldn’t afford a studio, didn’t want a studio … or more likely, I think, was limited — like so many are now — by childcare responsibility. The moments captured here make it look like a wonderful arrangement for both mother and daughter.

Mother and daughter at work: A kitchen somewhere in Brooklyn, Aug. 27, 1956


Professional visit: While the artist dries the dishes, Aug. 27, 1956


Same place, same time: Finishing touches, hosting guests, drying dishes, caring for daughter, Aug. 27, 1956


Time for a walk: A sidewalk somewhere in Brooklyn, Aug. 27, 1956


First glimpse: Mount Sinai Hospital, 1957

Martin R. Steinberg, hospital director, helps Yolande reveal the finished work.


Certificate of appreciation: Presentation to the artist, Mount Sinai Hospital, 1957


Admiration: Artist and hospital executives admire the work, Mount Sinai Hospital, 1957


Smiles: Beautiful mother and daughter, beautiful “Mother and Child,” Mount Sinai Hospital, 1957

An index of Kaufman’s Brooklyn posts may be found here.

Irving Kaufman’s profile may be found here.

I invite you to submit comments, memories, images of Brooklyn, and especially any additional background information you can supply about the photos posted here to [email protected]. I’d also be glad to supply information about buying prints of any of the images seen here. Many of my father’s images are also available for viewing and purchase at All prints purchased will be the product of professional scanning and editing.

Weekly collections 22 and 23: Photos from the ‘Variety’ collection

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