Yesterday, Untapped reader Michael Pellas (via @History_Pics) shared with us this aerial photo of Manhattan in 1944 by Andreas Feininger. Feininger was a LIFE Magazine photographer whose work is hauntingly precise–so much so that it becomes art. It’s easy to see how is work as a practicing architect (and cabinet maker) influenced his aesthetic. In a glowing piece on him, LIFE wrote that he was one of the photographers whose images define New York City, “not merely how a great 20th century city looked, but how it imagined itself and its place in the world.”

The article continues:

New Yorkers, meanwhile — that landscape’s inhabitants — were often an afterthought: it was form, pattern and, perhaps above all else, scale that Feininger sought. Human beings might have built this thrilling, sprawling, purposeful urban panorama, but their presence in Feininger’s pictures was not necessary; their handiwork would suffice.

In an era where battle lines were drawn, Feininger defied label in a way–born in Paris, raised in Germany, working in the United States. He photographed animal skeletons with the same purity of composition and lighting as he did urban scenes, and was equally adept at capturing the natural landscapes of an emerging America.

For a modern day version Feininger’s aerial photo, check out this 3D panorama of Manhattan by helicopter. Get in touch with the author @untappedmich.

 Andreas Feininger, photography, vintage photos

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