Art Shay, Legendary Photographer

Wizard Gallery
May 24, 2020 4:56PM

Art Shay one of the 20th century's most prolific photographers and his work is considered legendary. For over 70 years, he documented his life and reproduced key moments in the streets of Chicago and across the nation’s postwar history.

Art Shay 1922-2018, Brooklyn, NY

Born in 1922, Art Shay grew up in the Bronx and served as a navigator in the U.S. Army Air Forces in World War II. before becoming one of the greatest photojournalist for many major publications including Time, Life and Sports Illustrated.

Art Shay one of the 20th century's most prolific photographers and his work is considered legendary. For over 70 years, he documented his life and reproduced key moments in the streets of Chicago and across the nation’s postwar history.

One of his most remarkable assignment for Time Magazine was covering the first presidential debate between Kennedy and Richard Nixon in 1960 because, as he said, he was witnessing history as it was happening.

Later on, on a fateful April 4 in 1968, Mr. Shay arrived in Memphis just hours after Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated. He capture the aftermath for Life Magazine.

He photographed nine US Presidents and chronicled many famous figures of the 20th century like Mohammed Ali or Marlon Brando, as well as the everyday life of thousands of Americans. Shay’s was a master combining his natural abilities of storytelling, humor, and empathy.

Art Shay
Mafia Boss Tony Accardo in a Chicago Courthouse "Photography", 1959
Wizard Gallery

He merged photography and history to demonstrate how racial and economic inequality gave rise to a decades-long struggle for justice in a single American city.

His photographs give us a hint to answering questions like:

What does democracy look like? And when should we cause trouble to pursue it?

Art Shay left us in April 2018 at the age of 96, but part of his photography legacy is included in the permanent collections of museums like the National Portrait Gallery, the Art Institute of Chicago and the Museum of Contemporary Photography of Chicago.

Wizard Gallery is proud to be one of the galleries showing his archive, and we have the enormous pleasure of sharing a small selection of his works.

Wizard Gallery