(1 of 6 doube-covers of Lid Magazine, Issue #17: Lou Reed by Timothy Greenfield-Sanders)
Dennis Stock: American Cool
After a photographic career spanning more than fifty years, Dennis Stock’s images will be anthologized for the first time. Editor, Tony Nourmand and Designer, Graham Marsh have put together some of Stock’s best work from the 1950’s through the 1970’s. Published by Reel Art Press in November 2013, the anthology is appropriately titled American Cool, two adjectives that perfectly describe the journey seen through the eyes of one of America’s most innovative photographers of the twentieth century.
A premiere member of the Magnum photographic agency, Dennis Stock is probably best known for his portraits of Jazz musicians and Hollywood stars of the 1950’s. He had a keen eye that brought his subjects to vivid life. A true artist, Stock could simultaneously capture the dangerous sensuality of James Dean, the regal elegance of Grace Kelly, and the smoldering cool of Miles Davis. It was this very state of cool that his photographic eye was most attuned to.
“In 1958, when Dennis was about 30 years old, he traveled through New Orleans and all the Jazz clubs in New York because he was obsessed with Jazz music,” Tony Nourmand says of Dennis. “He took some of the most incredible photographs of these musicians which, in my opinion, are some of the best out there.”
What makes Dennis Stock such a great photographer was his ability to get under the skin of his subjects, none more so than as demonstrated by his iconic image of James Dean. He captured the star walking through Times Square with a cigarette in his mouth, his collar popped, and a “I don’t give a fuck” attitude. It was this image among others that helped shape Dean’s bad boy image in 1950’s Hollywood.
Dennis was equally adroit at capturing the magical femininity of his female subjects, having immortalized the beauty of some of the most celebrated Hollywood actresses of his time. Along with Grace Kelly, Katharine Hepburn was one of Dennis’s most challenging subjects. Dennis shot Hepburn on the set of A Long Day’s Journey Into Night in 1961 when the actress was in her mid-forties. “She looked absolutely fucking stunning,” Tony Nourmand says of Stock’s photograph. “He was able to bring back the youthful face that was once held as the ideal of beauty.”
Tony Nourmand remembers Dennis Stock as the Photographer’s Photographer. “There are so many amazing photographs, it was almost difficult to choose which would be shown in the book. There are so many flavors to his work, and every photograph is a stunner.”
Dennis Stock captured that indefinable essence that is “Cool”. He could find that star quality in all of his subjects. American Cool brings together a collection that truly stands on its own.
“There’s no two ways about it,” Tony Nourmand says of this anthology, “Its just fucking… Cool.”
(Cover of Dennis Stock: American Cool, the new book by Tony Nourmand
& Graham Marsh. Published by Reel Art Press.)