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Born in New York City in 1928, Stanley Kubrick began taking photographs when in high school. At sixteen, he sent a photograph he took of a newsstand after President Roosevelt’s death to Look Magazine. The publication of the photograph marked the beginning of Kubrick’s work for the magazine, which lasted until 1950, when Kubrick made his first 16mm documentary film. During those five years Kubrick completed dozens of photographic reportage assignments in New York City as well as abroad. The resulting thousands of negatives have remained in the archives of Look Magazine ever since.
Kubrick’s photographs vary in subject, but people are the central focus of attention, as is his commitment to narration. Whether capturing the meditative state of passengers in a series of portraits made in the New York subway, following famous boxer Rocky Graziano on the ring and in intimate moments, portraying the coming of age of socialite Betsy Von Fürstenberg, or narrating the tale of a shoe-shine boy in the streets of New York City, Kubrick draws psychological portraits that combine drama, irony, and often mystery, anticipating his trademark cinematic style.
If Kubrick’s photographs are fascinating accounts of life in the late 1940s, they are also a major contribution to American photography of that era. At nineteen, Kubrick already had an immense talent in constructing complex compositions in which camera positioning and lighting played a crucial role.
The book is introduced by an essay by Rainer Crone, who also edited the selection of photographs for this book. Crone is an expert on Kubrick’s photographic work, and has already published a catalogue on this subject (see Related Titles below). An art historian, he gives context and examines Kubrick’s photographs in relation to not only his later films but also the history of twentieth-century art and photography. Crone also wrote short introductions to most stories in the book.
An invaluable contribution to the history of photography, this book explores how one of the most influential and successful film directors of our time used photography to master visual techniques and cultivate his signature style.