Merry Alpern

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Merry Alpern (born 1955 in New York City) is an American photographer that has been shown in museums and exhibitions around the country including the Whitney Museum of American Art, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Museum of Modern Art, National Museum of Women in the Arts and The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. Her most notable work is her 1993-94 series Dirty Windows, a controversial series in which she took photos of an illegal sex club through a bathroom window in Manhattan near Wall Street.[1] In 1994, the National Endowment for the Arts rejected recommended photography fellowships to Alpern, as well as Barbara DeGenevieve and Andres Serrano.[2][3] Merry Alpern became one of many artists assaulted by congressional conservatives trying to defund the National Endowment for the Arts because of this series.[4] As a result, museums such as the Museum of Modern Art in New York and San Francisco rushed to exhibit the series.[5] She later produced and exhibited another show called Shopping which included images from hidden video cameras.[6]

Early life and career[edit]

Alpern was a sociology major when she dropped out of college in 1977. She moved to New York City shortly after and worked as a printer in a commercial lab. She later worked for Rolling Stone magazine and as an editorial freelancer.[7]


  • A.J. and Jim Bob, 1987-88.
  • Dirty Windows, 1993-94.
  • Shopping, 1999.


  1. ^ Anthes, Bill (2011). Reframing Photography: Theory and Practice. Routledge. p. 41. ISBN 0-203-84759-8.
  2. ^ Ault, Julie (1999). Art Matters: How the Culture Wars Changed America. NYU Press. ISBN 9780814793510.
  3. ^ Schemo, Dian Jean (November 3, 1994). "Endowment Ends Program Helping Individual Artists". The New York Times. Retrieved February 21, 2017.
  4. ^ Knight, Christopher (January 8, 1995). "THE NATION / THE CULTURE WARS : A Day in the Death of the NEA: Did Agency's Success Cause Its Demise?". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved February 21, 2017.
  5. ^ Goldberg, Vicki (October 29, 1995). "PHOTOGRAPHY VIEW;Testing the Limits In a Culture of Excess". The New York Times. Retrieved February 21, 2017.
  6. ^ Jones, Jana Henlebem (2012–13). "The Art of Sincerity" (PDF). Academic Forum. 30: 30.
  7. ^ "Public, Private, Secret—Merry Alpern with Pauline Vermare". International Center of Photography. 2016-12-19. Retrieved 2018-04-06.

External links[edit]