Recently I've watched two really great documentaries.
This is a look at a long time street photographer who has worked for The New York Times, Women's Wear Daily, and Details. Bill Cunningham, an avid street fashion follower since the 1950s spends hours and hours photographing street fashion and in essence observing the trends. Bill is a modest man, how knows what he wants out of life, not allowing anything superfluous to interfere with his main love, photographing fashion. He doesn't dress up for any situation or put on heirs when rubbing shoulders with the rich and social elite. Up until recently he lived in a modest studio above Carnegie Hall with no kitchen and still is found riding his bike around the city with his camera. He is known to refuse money which could increase his wealth, but in turn chooses to forgo the financial obligation that comes with payment, continuing to do what he wants how he wants. He is not interested in fame or fortune, not even status, yet has gained much respect and infamy in the fashion world, world wide. He is always a welcome guest at the most exclusive events. His keen eye and taste inspire fashionistas to dress in hopes of being captured by him. Vogue editor-in-chief, Anna Wintour states dressing for Bill and being devastated when he doesn't photograph her. This documentary is fun for people who like fashion, inspiring for photographers and art lovers, and also a refreshing portrait of a man who lives a modest but invigorating life. It shows that one can stay down to earth and true to his values and still achieve great success.
This is another peak into the art world via two collectors, Herbert and Dorothy Vogel. Unlike most collectors exposed in films and magazines, this couple is also very modest and uninterested in status. They live their lives on a shoestring budget of a postal worker and librarian, spending all their extra money on art. Like Bill Cunningham, the Vogels are inevitibly part of high society with no real interest in the fame or fortune of it. They just love art, collecting it, and supporting the art community. In the film they are shown in their one bedroom apartment that seems more like a storage facility, full of works from lesser known artists to the more famed Sol Lewitt, Donald Judd, and Chuck Close. Many of their pieces were acquired in the 1960s when these artists were selling work for cheap. The Vogels even got a few pieces on trade. Instead of selling works and choosing to become millionaires, Herb and Dorothy have now donated their collection to The National Gallery in Washington DC and are in the process of distributing what else they have to other states because they just had too many works. This is a different kind of philanthropy that is less shown today in the art world or in many circles. They refer to their art collection as their child that has been raised well and put out into the world for others to know and enjoy. You can view their collection here. I highly recommend this documentary for art lovers as well as for the story about two generous, modest people who wanted to share their passion for art with the world.
Both of these films show what can be achieved when passion overcomes greed and modesty and dedication overcome desire for fame and fortune. Both films are inspiring, and hopefully not the exceptions, but rather are just two of the many examples of how we can all have a passion filled meaningful existence through our own hard work, dedication, and involvement in our respective communities.