The photographs Stanley Kubrick took of boxer Rocky Graziano taking a shower were regarded as far too risque for the readers of Look Magazine in 1950 and they were locked in a vault until recently when they became part of a retrospective of Kubrick's work currently visiting museums around the world.
Kubrick's 300 assignments for Look (1945-1950) helped define the magazine's “gritty ethos and its commitment to a narrative arc”. Each assignment was tasked with telling an interesting story, and each one does, so that while the subject matter ranges from the outlandish (circus scenes) to the mundane (passengers on the subway), the innocent to the corrupt (paddy wagons!), wealthy businessmen (Bethlehem Steel) to old time jazz musicians, and the well-heeled to the poor, each shot for each assignment is part of a complex story. Nobody is just one thing: Mickey, the 12-year old Brooklyner is a poor shoeshine boy in post WW2 America, he is also an amateur boxer, one of nine siblings, somebody's son and a child who keeps pigeons.
Kubrick was good to Look Magazine and the relationship was reciprocal – Kubrick learned to compose for film while giving the magazine great visual essays. A loop from Kubrick's early film entitled “Killer's Kiss” (1955), shown amidst the photographs, effectively demonstrates how (in this case), he can capture the controlled violence of a boxing match in both film and photography. Take a look: the boxing photos in the exhibition are like the boxing frames in the film.
Kubrick honed what became a renowned capacity for representing text and subtext in striking imagery and this exhibition convincingly depicts this intersection of talent and skill.Follow @deltorniv