New York City, as sharply and lovingly described by E.B. White in his seminal 1949 essay Here Is New York, is still very much a city full of “strangers who have pulled up stakes somewhere and come to town, seeking sanctuary or fulfillment or some greater or lesser grail. The capacity to make such dubious gifts is a mysterious quality of New York.” This observation was as true then as it was in 1980 when Ryan Weideman first came to Manhattan, as it is now for the people who make New York their chosen home.
As a complete body of work, In My Taxi uniquely portrays the interstitial moments of New York City nightlife. The back bench seat is full of big-time business buzzing around town, or giggling girls piled making their way home on the other side of a long night, or famous raconteurs like Allen Ginsberg and the Beastie Boys. Weideman, always bridging the gap between strangers, immediately joined the party and was often both photographer and subject simultaneously. Images such as Self-Portrait with Black and White Couple illustrate not only the rapport between Weideman and his passengers, but also his acumen wielding the camera from the driver’s seat. Each face is half obscured in darkness while staring down the camera with palpable charisma. Weideman’s deft ability to keep up with the changing landscape and pace of the metropolis and its people over the course of thirty years renders In My Taxi both wonderfully nostalgic and timeless.
Ryan Weideman graduated with an MFA from the California College of Arts & Crafts in 1975, and already had a style greatly informed by his studies of the great photographers of the 1950s-70s, namely Robert Frank, Garry Winogrand, and Lee Friedlander. A month after moving to New York City, Weideman’s focus turned to more immediate, real-life concerns – how to earn money to pay his rent. He moved into a tenement building on West 43rd Street, and a chance encounter with a neighbor who drove a taxi led Weideman to his newfound profession. For the next thirty years Weideman would spend his nights as a licensed taxicab driver immersed in the ever-changing landscape of New York City.
Ryan Weideman’s work is held in the collections of institutions such as the Brooklyn Museum, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Oakland Museum as well as many prestigious private collections. He has received numerous awards including the Guggenheim Fellowship Grant (1992-1993), New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship (1986-1987) and National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship Grant (1984-1985). Ryan Weideman lives and works in New York City.