The Beauty of Doors
Visual books about New York’s painted and graffiti-scrawled walls seem as plentiful as graffiti itself. But other parts of the urban environment don’t get the same coffee-table-tome attention. For instance: doors. Until now, the illustrations gracing city portals have been mostly ignored as a distinct canvas. Door Jams: Amazing Doors of New York City by Allan Markman (Schiffer) spotlights the most elaborate, eccentric, and surprising entryways in the five boroughs.
Markman was appointed senior graphic designer for the United Nations in 2006. His first task: create a workplace poster announcing the newly formed UN Ethics Office. “The idea I came up with was a grid of interesting, diverse, and beautiful doors with the following copy: ‘Not sure if you should open that door? Contact the Ethics Office,’” he says. There was no budget to purchase stock photos, and Markman could not find enough public-domain images to his liking, so he began photographing doors in and around Manhattan. It took him four days to snap all the pictures needed for the poster, which, he told me, “the client loved, but upper management rejected.” The ad was never printed, but Markman’s door obsession had begun.
To a street artist, doors are public canvases waiting to be transformed. To Markman, they collectively tell the story of a diverse city: “The door is an exciting and often surprising marker of the urban experience. Many doors provide a small glimpse of a forgotten past, while others reflect the dysfunction of the present. A door speaks of class, culture, wealth, poverty, change, neglect and even death. Some really interesting doors adorn the mausoleums found in the Woodlawn (Bronx), Greenwood (Brooklyn), and Maple Grove (Queens) cemeteries.”
Read more. [Image: Allan Markman (Schiffer)]