May 14, 2022 11:28 am

an american eye

In Chicago, his city of residence, Steve Schapiro passed away on the 22nd. He had been born into a Jewish family in Brooklyn, then moved to the Bronx. His father owned a stationery store in Rockefeller Center. That boy raised in the climate of the Great Depression took his first photograph… at the age of nine, during a summer camp. He decided to practice the art of the camera after studying with the great W. Eugene Smith. In addition to this, he admired Cartier-Bresson. Soon he began to collaborate in magazines such as ‘Life’, ‘Look’, ‘This Week’, or ‘Infinity’. The defining moment of Schapiro’s career was his commitment to the Black people’s struggle for Civil Rights. After reading, in 1963, ‘The Fire Next Time’, a great book denouncing James Baldwin, he convinced ‘Life’ to dedicate a report to the black-American narrator, whom he accompanied through various New York neighborhoods, and on a trip through the South. That same year he photographed the march on Washington, and the following year the ‘Selma March’ that led the Rev. Martin Luther King from Selma to Montgomery. The extraordinary images that he took then, in black and white, contributed decisively to the awareness of his generation regarding this problem. In 1968, learning the news of King’s assassination, he traveled to Memphis, where he photographed the scenes of the last hours of the activist and his assassin. In 2017, Benedikt Taschen would make an edition of Baldwin’s book, entirely illustrated by snapshots of the photographer. An excellent portraitist, Schapiro immortalized, among many others, Buster Keaton in the company of Samuel Beckett, Robert Kennedy, Magritte in his retrospective at MoMA in New York, Truman Capote, Rauschenberg, David Bowie (to whom he dedicated a book in 2016), Jane Fonda, Lauren Hutton, Woody Allen, Mia Farrow, Bianca Jagger, Andy Warhol and his court… A very important area of ​​Schapiro’s work corresponds to his collaboration with the film industry, as a still photo in more than two hundred films. Taschen, once again, was the editor, in 2008, of the photobook that collected the images he took from the filming of ‘The Godfather’, by Francis Ford Coppola, which would be followed in 2013 by another similar one around ‘Taxi Driver’, by Martin Scorsese. His bibliography is completed by the miscellaneous volumes ‘American Edge’ (2000), ‘Schapiro’s Heroes’ (2007), ‘Then and Now’ (2012) and ‘Bliss’ (2015), on the neo-hippie phenomenon, and two monographic volumes on Barbra Streisand (2016) and boxer Muhammad Ali (2018). More, reflecting his activity as a collector, an early volume, from 1979, on the movie poster, based mainly on those he owned. In 2015 PhotoEspaña presented an anthology of his work at the Centro de Historias de Zaragoza. JUAN MANUEL BONET

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