About this artwork
Art Shay is one of Chicago’s great photojournalists. With more than 25,000 published photographs—including more than 1,000 magazine covers—Shay has shaped the way we see the world on the printed page.
Born in the Bronx, Shay took up photography at the age of 12. He served in the U.S. Air Force in World War II, and his first published photographs—of an American military air disaster—were printed in a September 1944 issue of the weekly magazine Look. After the war, he joined Time and Life magazines, writing stories that he occasionally supplemented with his own (uncredited) images. In 1948 he moved to Chicago and took up photography full-time. In the nearly seven decades since, Shay’s camera has documented the famous and the downtrodden, the international and the local, the newsworthy and the intimate.
Of particular significance in Shay’s career was his long friendship with the writer Nelson Algren (American, 1909–1981); the two met in 1949 and collaborated on several books and other projects. Together Shay and Algren roamed Chicago’s neighborhoods to document the lives and culture of the city’s down-and-out, and the photographer’s many pictures of the writer on those forays combine to form a multifaceted portrait.
— Permanent collection label
“A lifelong White Sox fan, Algren suffered through their misfortunes as nervously as any Cub fan of our own age. As a kid he had lived through the Black Sox scandal and knew the details well enough to write authoritatively about it. Once he and Studs Terkel were passengers in my 1949 Pontiac. I can still hear them groaning about “The Swede,” an unlikely culprit, and the verbal fencing over the batting averages of the Black Sox and their fates. Studs would eventually script and appear in the definitive Black Sox scandal movie: Eight Men Out. It became Algren’s pleasure to take Simone de Beauvoir to ball games. He was charmed by her fixation on the way ballplayers scratched their genitals and by their body language in general. He especially loved her misreading the score as “114,000,523 to 026,000,112.”’
Currently Off View
- Art Shay
- Nelson Algren Pauses after Another White Sox Loss, Chicago
- United States
- Gelatin silver print
- Unmarked recto; signed verso, lower right, in black ink: "Art Shay"; inscribed verso, lower right, in graphite: "265.466.3.06"
- 33.1 x 25.7 cm
- Ernest Kahn Endowment; William Elfenbaum Endowment
- © Art Shay