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Steve Schapiro, Great Chronicler of America

Nico in Times Square, New York, 1968


January 2023

by Nathalie Dassa


Steve Schapiro, Great Chronicler of America

Fahey/Klein Gallery in Los Angeles celebrates the legacy and remarkable career of this iconic photojournalist in a commemorative retrospective.

Steve Schapiro (1934-2022) immortalized the upheavals and key moments in American society of his time. An avid photographer from the age of nine, influenced by Henri Cartier-Bresson, he produced powerful reports on the civil rights struggle, the plight of migrant farm workers, the living conditions of drug addicts in Harlem, Robert Kennedy’s political campaigns, and the hippie counterculture. He was also an invaluable on-set photographer, earning him perhaps his greatest fame. He worked behind the scenes on over 200 Hollywood feature films, including the legendary Midnight Cowboy, Taxi Driver, Chinatown, The Godfather, and Apocalypse Now. But also in the field of art and music, capturing David Bowie, Barbra Streisand, Andy Warhol, Samuel Beckett, and Lou Reed. His photographs have rarely missed the front pages of international magazines (Time, Life, Look, Paris Match, Rolling Stone) and are now part of the collections of major museums. 

Rhetoric of the image

To close the year, the Fahey/Klein Gallery presents the exhibition “I love you… Leave a message,” paying a new tribute to this legend, who died on January 15, 2022 in Chicago at the age of 87. As David Fahey, who represented him, recalls, “On Martin Luther King’s birthday.” A moving reminder.

This selection of photographs draws from his collection considered the most memorable of the 20th century. “Steve was a talented image maker. He was a brilliant storyteller with a single image as well as with a photo essay – creating images that are informative, emotional, and revealing of truth. They are not only a record of a time and place, but also have a way of addressing collective feelings (past and present) in our culture and society.” But to really get a sense of Steve Schapiro’s personality, the gallery founder points out that all you have to do is listen to the recording of his answering machine message: “Hi, this is Steve Shapiro. I hope you’re having a great day – I am. I hope I can get back to you soon. And if I can’t, I love you.”