Jeffrey Blankfort is a San Francisco-based photojournalist who arrived in Rome during the winter of 1966 for a six month long stay with the hopes of learning the language, enjoying the tasty food and taking in the Eternal City’s remarkable beauty but most of all, he was eager to get to know its people. In particular, Blankfort was fascinated by the Roman children he encountered throughout his journey.
Becoming Acquainted with Rome
Blankfort recalls this special time and says, “for the first two weeks, I walked through the streets of the city, leaving my camera behind, wanting to first see and become acquainted with the city without the intrusion of a camera lens. One of the first things I noticed was the way Romans cared for children, not just their own but everyone else’s. Seeing them walking through the streets of Rome or in the parks by themselves or with friends, it appeared that passing adults were never a threatening presence but more like uncles or aunts or surrogate parents there to help them if necessary."
The photos Blankfort took during his six months in Rome were first exhibited at the popular Focus Gallery on Union Street in San Francisco the following year. The rest of his career was mainly dedicated to documenting the political and social strife during that time period which included the protests against the Vietnam War as well as the Black Panther movement.
Blankfort says, “Since the early 60s, I have documented social and political realities in many parts of the world and in a wide variety of circumstances, both as an observer and as a participant. In that time, I have tried never to lose sight of the aesthetic values that can make a photograph communicate something more than what is happening in front of the camera.” TIME, Rolling Stone, and The New York Times are just some of the biggest magazines in which his work has been published.
The opening night and artist reception of The Children of Rome will be on Wednesday, May 10th at 6:30PM and will continue to be on view at the Italian Cultural Institute of San Francisco until June 9th.