Octogenarian photographer pays midtown a visit

Frank Horvat launches exhibition at Izzy Gallery in Yorkville

Off to the left side of the Izzy Gallery’s main doors is a photo of a very rarely photographed fashion icon.

It’s a shot of Coco Chanel, backstage at a 1958 fashion show.

Of course, Horvat made a quip that most photographers would understand, shooting photos at an event can be very boring because you’re restricted in what you can capture. Still, he managed to record a secretive Chanel up on the stairs watching her own wares being sashayed down the runway.

Horvat related this anecdote to fashion maven, Jeanne Beker, and to a modest crowd gathered at the Izzy Gallery in the heart of Yorkville.

“I was standing near to the staircase where Coco Chanel was watching, unseen,” he remembered. “But I had seen her, and I never spoke to her. I’ve never met her. I just saw her there (at that time).”

It was a moment that excited the passion inside of him, one that is still unwavering in his senior years.

“The thing that is fun, is when it’s unexpected and you catch it,” he added, of photography.

Some of his most famous shots include the shoes in front of the Eiffel Tower. Another shot at the racetrack for Jardin des Modes, with a model draped in glamour and a Givenchy hat adding the right flare. Behind her are four men in top hats and binoculars.

After his chat with Beker, I ambled up beside the Parisian shutterbug and asked him about his voyage across the pond.

Horvat admitted he hadn’t seen much of the city, but he wanted to venture up country to record the beauty of Ontario’s north. He was also divulging that he needed a ride up yonder.

“I can’t walk much because I’m an old man,” he said, with a sheepish grin that made him look younger than he was.

Weeks earlier, gallery owner Izzy Sulejmani told me he was excited to have Horvat come to the studio. He has worked tirelessly, with the gentle nudging of wife Deanna Nastic, to bring the most respected artists of the genre to T.O.

I commend Izzy and his family for opening his doors and the city to international photography. There is a subtle savvy among the citizens here, but sometimes when I talk about photographers like Albert Watson, Arthur Elgort, Ellen von Unwerth and Marco Glaviano, people’s eyes glaze over.

There’s another type of photography — nature — that will be on the agenda next for the Izzy Gallery, as they prepare for David Yarrow in the summer.