REMEMBERING STEVE SCHAPIRO
Rest in power
It is with great sadness that we mark the passing of a truly remarkable photographer, Steve Schapiro.
Born in 1934 in New York City, Steve discovered photography at the age of nine. Soon he decided to devote himself to photojournalism. In 1961 Schapiro began working as a freelance photographer. His photos have been published in numerous publications such as LIFE, Vanity Fair, Sports Illustrated, Newsweek, and Time – to name a few. Steve is often celebrated for his expansive work documenting the American Civil Rights Movement and the Selma to Montgomery march. Although, this important subject matter just begins to scratch the surface of the broad range of Steve’s work.
Schapiro was a talented image-maker that created powerful photographs with passion and grace. His pictures are objective but also interpretive, an expert storyteller with a single image, as well as with a photo essay - making images that are informational, emotional, and truth-telling. His photographs are not only a record of a time and place, but also have a way of addressing the collective feelings (past & present) in our culture and society.
The sheer diversity of his life’s work is astonishing. As Steve has said, he has made photographs “from poodles to Presidents – and portraits from Beckett to Warhol to Bowie.” His documentary photographs of the Civil Rights struggle are objective and with balance - honest and authentic. He was not afraid of aestheticizing unpleasant truths. Visually, they can contain a beautiful element as well. Beauty can be a doorway to empathy. These important photographs have contributed enormously to our social and political awakening.
His freewheeling “fly-on-the-wall” manner and style, along with his hard earned and unimpeded access, has contributed to his success. A perfect example of this is when Steve traveled through the American South with James Baldwin. Steve was inspired by Baldwin’s essay in the New Yorker, which later became part of Baldwin’s book, “The Fire Next Time”. While traveling with Baldwin, Steve documented the people, circumstances, and conditions they witnessed. His Civil Rights photographs have contributed to the long overdue racial reckoning. These images are both arresting, artful, and speaks to the heart of this non-violent rebellion.
- David Fahey
Fahey/Klein Gallery, Los Angeles
Steve Schapiro peacefully passed at his home in Chicago on Saturday, January 15, 2022 – with his wife, Maura, and son, Theophilus. Perhaps fittingly on Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday. Steve lived a long, productive, and fruitful 87 years.