Art Shay photographs drkrm 727 S. Spring Street Los Angeles CA 90014 January 5, 201
Exhibition March 2 - April 14, 2013
"Art Shay's photography shakes you up, sets you down gently, pats you on the head and then kicks you in the ass." Roger Ebert
"Art Shay's one of the best photo-journalists I know. I've been a fan of his work since before I launched Playboy." Hugh Hefner
"Shay's work has the intensity of Hemingway, the depth of Dostoevski and the passion of Melville." Michael Moreci
A member of the American Society of Media Photographers (ASMP) since 1957, Art Shay’s photography career spans nearly seven decades. He has published over 30,000 photographs, which include the likes of kings, queens, presidents, athletes and celebrities as well as the common man.
Born in 1922, Art Shay grew up in the Bronx and later served as a navigator in the U.S. Army Air Forces in World War II, during which he flew 52 bomber missions. Mr. Shay joined the staff of Life magazine in 1948, first as a reporter, then as a photographer. He became a full-time photojournalist in the early fifties shooting regularly for Time, Life, Fortune, Sports Illustrated and the New York Times Magazine, among others.
He has covered subjects such as John F. Kennedy's 1960 presidential campaign, the fights of Muhammad Ali, Hugh Hefner's infamous bedroom office, and the Chicago police clubbing demonstrators at the 1968 Democratic Convention. Mr. Shay once told a reporter, of all his subjects, President Kennedy was his favorite, saying, “You can’t take a bad picture of that guy.”
Mr. Shay’s photography is rivaled only by the stories surrounding many of his images. In one photograph he is seen with Ernest Hemingway at an airbase outside of London during World War II. Hemingway showed Mr. Shay the manuscript for his next novel entitled, “Onward Christian Soldier Marching to a Whore.” The manuscript was never published. Mr. Shay also recalls the time he “slept” with Elizabeth Taylor. They were actually flying cross country together and she was asleep in the seat next to him. He has traded little black book tips with Hef and even peeked in on a nude Simone de Beauvoir. One of his images of Ms. de Beauvoir was displayed at the Louvre, “one floor up from Da Vinci” Mr. Shay has said. He went to Las Vegas and put himself at risk, shooting the Mob with cameras hidden on his body; he even had his wife's handbag outfitted with a lens.
Unlike other photographers of his time, Art Shay has a way with words and his writing is sharp, vivid and evocotive, reflecting a cultivated intellect. Among Mr. Shay's various publications are: Nelson Algren's Chicago (University of Illinois, 1988), Album for an Age (Ivan R. Dee, 2000), Animals (University of Illinois, 2002) and Couples (University of Illinois, 2003). He continues to write a weekly blog entry, “From the Vault of Art Shay” for Chicagoist.
Many of his images are in the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C., the Art Institute of Chicago and numerous other museum collections. His photograph of Russian Premier Nikita Khrushchev on an Iowa farm won Life magazine’s “Picture of the Year” in 1959. The New Yorker often used illustrations of his images for their covers. Playwright David Mamet, who wrote the introduction to Mr. Shay’s book, “Album for An Age”, hangs one of Mr. Shay’s images from the 1968 Democratic Convention in his office.
At 90 years of age, Art Shay remains an active photographer. He recently completed a series of images for Smashing Pumpkins lead singer, Billy Corgan (who had become close friends with Mr. Shay’s late wife, Florence). Corgan said of Mr. Shay’s photography, “He has the gift of capturing that ‘decisive moment’ that separates the legends from the rest of us punters who press buttons and call ourselves photographers. Art’s eye extends to those overlooked aspects of the human condition that have informed his opinions of the world.”
drkrm is an exhibition space dedicated to the display of popular cultural images, fine art photography, documentary and photo journalism, cutting edge and alternative photographic processes. drkrm is located in the historic Chung King Road of contemporary art galleries in Downtown L.A.'s Chinatown.
All gallery events are free and open to the public.