For those who know him as a filmmaker, Stanley Kubrick’s early career as a photojournalist is a revelation. In 1945, the future director of such classic works as 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) and A Clockwork Orange (1971) was just a teenager—but one with an uncanny photographic sensibility, who was already scouting human-interest stories for Look magazine. Explore this formative phase in the career of one of the twentieth century’s most influential figures in cinematic history.
Stanley Kubrick (1928–1999) was seventeen when he sold his first photograph to the pictorial magazine Look in 1945. In his photographs, many unpublished, Kubrick trained the camera on his native city, drawing inspiration from the nightclubs, street scenes, and sporting events that made up his first assignments and capturing the pathos of ordinary life with a sophistication that belied his young age. He produced work that was far ahead of his time and focused on themes that would inspire him throughout his creative life. Indeed his photography laid the foundations for his cinematography: he learned through the camera’s lens to be an acute observer of human interactions and to tell stories through images in dynamic sequences.
Through a Different Lens: Stanley Kubrick Photographs is organized by the Museum of the City of New York, drawn from its Look magazine archive, which explores this early and influential work from Kubrick’s formative years. The exhibition follows along as he developed his talent for storytelling and honed his visual style in Look assignments that offer a kaleidoscopic view of city life, from the gritty to the glamorous. In these images of celebrities and everyday people alike, Kubrick revealed the hundreds of human dramas unfolding at any moment.