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Harry Shunk, a once internationally known photographer, had become a reclusive hoarder, rarely leaving his apartment in the West Village in New York City. The day came when a terrible odor alerted a security guard. It took three sweeps by the police to discover Shunk’s body trapped upside down in piles of papers seven feet high.

Harry's Gift
A New York Story

Six days and seven dumpsters were needed to finish the job. On the last day, Darryl had a hunch, and backing up his truck to the site, he took some of the boxes and portfolios, brought them home and put them in his closet.

There they stayed, until one night, depressed and overwhelmed by hard times, Darryl saw something. A shadow passed down the hall and vanished into the closet. When Darryl opened the closet door, he looked up at a photograph of a swath of orange fabric that spanned the entire width of a canyon. Thinking it might be valuable, the next day he brought it and some of the other art to show the building manager who had hired him. “Are you ready to retire?” he was asked.

Shunk left no heirs and Darryl Kelly was hired to get rid of the stuff.

To learn more about Christo: www.christojeanneclaude.net

In the 1960s art began to move outside of the galleries and museums, connecting with the public through performances, protests and Happenings. Christo, Andy Warhol and Yves Klein were among the artists whose work Harry Shunk and his partner Janos Kender had documented, and they gave Harry prints, drawings and photographs out of friendship. Darryl put them up for auction; Harry Shunk's reputation was revitalized by the unearthing of his prints and negatives.

Click button to purchase the film Harry's Gift (30-min. DVD)

The Roy Lichtenstein Foundation bought, scanned and catalogued the negatives and donated them to the Getty Archive as well as to MoMA, the Tate Modern, The Pompidou Centre and the National Gallery.

 

Out of gratitude, Darryl bought Harry a bronze plaque for his unmarked grave, and in May of 2015, MoMA gave Harry a show.

View a selection from Harry's Gift:

Official Selections:

 

Manchester Film Festival

New York Documentary Film Festival

SENE Festival  Audience Award

Real Art Festival  Best Documentary

 

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