Steve Schapiro. Living America

24.10 - 09.12. 2012

Through a selection of 120 works Living America explores the work by the prominent American photojournalist Steve Schapiro, bringing together social documentary, celebrity portraiture and street photography.

Steve Schapiro. Andy Under the Silver Cloud

Schapiro’s career in photojournalism started in 1961. During the “golden age in photojournalism” activist and reporter, Schapiro, highlighted many stories related to protests against the Vietnam War, hippies and the Summer of Love, and the Civil Rights movement, including the March on Washington and the Selma to Montgomery march for voter registration when Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his famous “I have a dream” speech. Schapiro was the first photographer at the location where Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated and produced some of the most iconic images of this tragic event.

During the turbulent decade of the 1960s, Steve Schapiro traveled throughout America from coast to coast photographing people and issues. He had set out to make a portrait of the era, to highlight the “icons” and ordinary people who became the new generation of America. Steve Schapiro captured both drug addicts from Harlem and stars from Hollywood. He covered American art scene with portraits of Francis Bacon and Rene Magritte, Robert Ruaschenberg and Claes Oldenberg, documented Andy Warhol’s Factory, collaborated with Barbra Streisand and David Bowie. Schapiro managed to catch the character and charisma of famous actors and directors such as Dustin Hoffman, Robert De Niro, Katharine Hepburn and Mia Farrow, Francis Ford Coppola, Martine Scorsese, Woody Allen and Roman Polanski.

As part of the exhibition the Lumiere Brothers Center for Photography presents an exclusive project The Godfather Family Album, which encompasses iconic images from the legendary Francis Ford Coppola trilogy. Instantly recognizable images including Brando with Cat, Pacino Dying and The Whisper, are shown with images that have never been seen before.

Born and raised in New York City, Steve Schapiro discovered photography at the age of nine and spent the following decades prowling the streets of his native New York City trying to emulate the work of Henri Cartier-Bresson. Later William Eugene Smith taught him technical skills he need to succeed as a photographer, and also expanded his world-view. Schapiro’s lifelong interest in social documentary and his consistently empathetic portrayal of the subjects is an outgrowth of the days spent with Smith and the development of a concerned humanistic approach to photography.

Magazines, such as Life, Time, Rolling Stone, Sports Illustrated, People, Newsweek and Vanity Fair, have published Schapiro’s photo-essays. His photographs were included in the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s 1968 exhibition “Harlem on My Mind”. His work can be found in the collections of the Smithsonian museum (Washington), the High Museum (Atlanta) and the National Portrait Gallery (Washington). His monographic albums have been published by Taschen, Arena Editions, PowerHouse Books and Hatje Cantz.