The Fahey/Klein Gallery is pleased to present, American Moments, the Los Angeles debut exhibition of photojournalist, filmmaker, and writer Lawrence Schiller. In 1957, at age twenty, Schiller embarked on his photojournalist career with photographs in LIFE and The Saturday Evening Post. By the beginning of the 1960s it was not simply a matter of being in the right place at the right time that made his images particularly poignant and historically important; Schiller was guided by an innate sense of instinct. He also had the liberty of working independently and remained virtually unrestricted or typecast by editors. This allowed him to photograph nearly every major headline-worthy event of a tumultuous decade.
In 1960, Schiller captured Pat Nixon’s tears as her husband, Richard Nixon, delivered his concession speech after losing the presidential election to John F. Kennedy. Two years later, he photographed Lee Harvey Oswald at the Dallas Police Station, as he was about to be interrogated for the assassination of President Kennedy. Schiller was in the basement when Jack Ruby shot and killed Oswald. He would later travel with Senator Robert Kennedy in 1968, documenting the last month of his presidential campaign; and the candidate would use Schiller’s portrait of himself for one of his last campaign billboards, before he, too, was assassinated.
Lawrence Schiller photographed the heated boxing match between Muhammad Ali and Floyd Patterson in 1965 when Patterson refused to refer to Ali by his newly adopted Black Muslim name, and was, in turn, mocked and taunted throughout the entire fight by a victorious Ali. And Schiller continued to cover other historic news-making personalities and events throughout the ’60s and ’70s: Patty Hearst for the cover of TIME magazine; death row inmate Gary Gilmore as he awaited execution; the explosive Watts Riots in Los Angeles; and the experimental use of LSD, Timothy Leary, and the acid generation. He even interviewed Charles Manson Family member Susan Atkins, who eventually confessed to the murders in a story copyrighted by Schiller.
“[The ’60s were] a time in which things happened awfully fast. It was a wild, wild period; an uncontrolled period. I don’t think you had any sense of perspective in the ’60s. You had to wait and look back at it, because it was a period in which things were happening that had no rhyme or reason to them,” says Schiller. “By the end of the ’60s I had covered so many stories, had so many magazine stories, I had somehow become part of that decade’s history. And I already had my eye on the future.”
Lawrence Schiller may be best known for his pictures of Marilyn Monroe. He first photographed Monroe when he was just twenty-three, on the set of Let’s Make Love for Look magazine. Two years later, on the set of Something’s Got to Give, Monroe allowed Schiller to photograph and publish the first nudes she had posed for in over ten years. Monroe successfully used these images to generate publicity and regain influence with the motion picture studio which she believed had underestimated and underpaid her. The time Schiller spent with Marilyn gave him a unique insight into her genuine personality, character, and allure, as well as her complexities on- and off-screen.
Mr. Schiller will be in attendance for a reception at the Fahey/Klein Gallery on Thursday, July 26, from 7–9 PM. He will be signing copies of his new book, Marilyn & Me: A Photographer’s Memories, available in a memoir edition from Nan A. Talese/Doubleday, and a deluxe, limited edition from TASCHEN.