Bicycle with light and lock

Object Number: 
ca. 2002
Metal, aluminum, rubber, plastic
Overall: 43 1/2 × 69 1/4 × 24 1/4 in. (110.5 × 175.9 × 61.6 cm)
Frame marked “BIRIA” and “CIEL BICYCLES”

Bicycle equipped with: Armadillo “All-Condition” front tire; Topline back tire; Tektro brakes; Shimany Tourney TX derailleur; and Greenfield kickstand. Bell Magnus innovation light and Abus lock also affixed to bicycle.

Gallery Label: 

William John “Bill” Cunningham (1929-2016) was a long-time New York Times photographer and journalist known for his “On the Street” and “Evening Hours” columns. As much a cultural anthropologist as he was a fashion photographer, Cunningham was known for candid street or event photographs of New Yorkers that depicted up-to-the-minute fashion trends. Among Cunningham’s most frequent locations to photograph his candid shots was the corner of Fifth Avenue and Fifty-Seventh Street and at the “up-to-twenty galas” he attended each week.

To achieve his telling photographs, Bill Cunningham often circulated around the city on a bicycle. In temperate weather he wore a French workers’ jacket. The bicycle here is one of thirty Cunningham owned over his many years of activity. It was made by Biria, a German manufacturer of upright bicycles designed for short rides on flat, urban surfaces. As indicated by the “Ciel Bicycles” tag also affixed to the bicycle, Cunningham probably purchased it at Ciel Bicycles, “the flagship New York City store of Biria” located at 360 East 65th Street. The jacket is also one of several he regularly wore. The Nikon camera, too, is one of several owned by Cunningham, and was probably used through the end of his career.

Credit Line: 
Gift of Louise Doktor

The collage bike helmet and collage hatbox were given to Cunningham in 2009 by the New York Times. Similarly, the Living Landmark Award was given to Cunningham in 2009; the Carnegie Hall medal was given in 2012.

Donor Louise Doktor was a long-time Cunningham muse and close friend of the photographer. Cunningham bequeathed the bicycle, jacket, camera, and Living Landmark award to her. John Kurdewan, who is donating the bicycle helmet and Carnegie Hall medal, was Cunningham’s assistant at the New York Times for twenty years.

Donor received the property on 1/30/2017 as a beneficiary of the last will of William J. Cunningham, at his apartment at 240 Central Park South, Apt. 18-K, New York, NY.

Place Made: 
Due to ongoing research, information about this object is subject to change.
Creative: Tronvig Group