Editta Sherman (July 9, 1912 – November 1, 2013) was an Italian-American photographer, often referred to as the "Duchess of Carnegie Hall", since she lived and worked in Carnegie Hall Artist Studios for over 60 years. Originally formed as a diverse artist enclave and bohemian work-live rental studios to financially support Andrew Carnegie's struggling concert hall, Sherman's home from the 1940s until 2010 allowed her to be part of a unique artistic community of neighbors. Her life's work consists of thousands of historical large format 8×10 negative camera portrait images taken of celebrities, writers, poets, models, sports heroes, politicians, and many others (including many of the famed former tenants of Carnegie Hall).
Sherman was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the oldest of eight children born to Nunzio and Pierna Rinaldo, immigrants who moved to the United States from Italy in 1910. Her father operated a photography studio in New Jersey where she learned the art at a young age. Editta married in 1935 to Harold Sherman, a sound engineer and inventor, as well as her business partner. He died at the age of 50 years old, after suffering blindness and diabetes, leaving Editta with five young children to bring up as a single mother. She and her husband were instrumental in raising charity funds for the American Theatre Wing during World War II by volunteering to take portraits of Hollywood stars to aid in the American war effort.
Sherman was a muse of Andy Warhol who filmed her with filmmaker Paul Morrissey in the 1970s. She also appeared in the Abel Ferrara film Ms. 45 in 1981. She was a model as well as photographer and was photographed by Francesco Scavullo and symbolized aging gracefully at age 60 years old in his book "On Beauty" in the 1970s. A decade-long collaboration with her long-time friend and neighbor, William J. Cunningham, a New York Times fashion photographer, resulted in the Fashion Institute of Technology /Penguin Books 1978 publication of their book Facades, visually detailing 200 years of fashion and New York City architecture. In November 1967 Kodak Films sponsored a solo exhibit of Editta's celebrity portraits in a three-week public show at Grand Central Terminal, in New York City.
Sherman lived in Carnegie Hall until July 2010, and continued to work there until September 2010, having become an icon for renter's rights and affordable housing for the elderly in fighting eviction against the City of New York, the current owner of Carnegie Hall. All former residents have now relocated, and The Carnegie Hall Corporation plans to demolish the commercial and residential studios — which in their 1950s Bohemian heyday numbered as many as 170 — to create educational and rehearsal space for the hall. The $200 million project is to be completed in 2014.
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