Photographer Steve Schapiro’s work has been exhibited internationally and was featured in the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s 1968 exhibition Harlem On My Mind, more recently Warhol Underground at the Centre Pompidou, in Paris, and magazines including Vanity Fair and Newsweek. Schapiro, a regular of The Factory, spent significant time with Andy Warhol and captured the artist’s entourage and his meeting with the Velvet Underground in 1965.
But despite being present in prestigious collections around the world, including the Smithsonian and the National Portrait Gallery for example, Schapiro is probably most famous for his iconic portraits of David Bowie and his work on The Godfather and Taxi Driver. Having produced extraordinary photographs on the set of Midnight Cowboy, he was later hired as the photographer for these two films. The results are some of the most legendary portraits of American cinema featuring actors Marlon Brando and Robert de Niro.
In 1974, Schapiro seized upon a rare invitation from David Bowie’s manager for a private photo session with the artist in Los Angeles.
‘From the moment Bowie arrived, we seemed to hit it off. Incredibly intelligent, calm, and filled with ideas. He talked a lot about Aleister Crowley, whose esoteric writings he was heavily into at the time. When David heard that I had photographed Buster Keaton, one of his greatest heroes, we instantly became friends.’ This was the beginning of a collaboration which lasted many years.” Bowie and Schapiro produced some of the most iconic album art ever, including two of the Berlin trilogy: Station to Station and Low. Bowie referenced one his most famous photo sessions in his last-ever video, for the sad song Lazarus, wearing the same blue and white-stripes costume he was wearing then. This must have been such an honour for Schapiro.
The Atlas gallery, in London, presents an exhibition of work by Schapiro until 10 September 2016.
Twenty photographs are on display in the exhibition, including some unpresented-before works. The show coincides with the release of a new book, Bowie: Photographs by Steve Schapiro recently published by powerHouse Books.
Heroes, yet another reference to David Bowie, demonstrates Schapiro’s talent for capturing political moments in ‘the golden age of photojournalism’. His photographs of the Civil Rights Movement, particularly the Selma to Montgomery Marches of 1965 or his portraits of Muhammad Ali, still resonate today.