David Attie

David Attie

David Attie was a prominent commercial and fine art photographer in New York City, whose work was widely published from the late 1950’s until his passing in the 1980’s. Attie began his photographic career in the late 1950’s as a student and protege of influential Harper's Bazaar art director Alexey Brodovitch, who had similarly mentored the careers of Richard Avedon, Irving Penn, and Diane Arbus. On the final night of Brodovitch’s course, he gave Attie his first-ever professional assignment: to create a series of photo montages to illustrate Truman Capote's newest work, Breakfast at Tiffany's, which ran in Esquire in 1958.

From that point forward, Attie’s work was prolific and wide-ranging – including frequent covers and spreads for Vogue, Time, Newsweek, and Playboy; portraits of everyone from Bobby Fischer and Leonard Bernstein to Malcolm McDowell and Jim Henson; and his own books of photographs, 1977's Russian Self-Portraits, and 1981's Portrait: Theory (together with Robert Mapplethorpe and others).

While a number of Attie's portraits are in the Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery, for years after his passing his work was not widely seen. In the past handful of years, however, Attie's work has experienced a significant revival. His Lorraine Hansberry portraits appear in Netflix's acclaimed 2015 Nina Simone documentary What Happened, Miss Simone?, in the Oscar-nominated 2016 James Baldwin documentary I Am Not Your Negro, and in director Tracy Strain's 2018 American Masters documentary about Hansberry herself, "Sighted Eyes/Feeling Heart." His Leiber & Stoller portraits appear in HBO’s 2018 documentary “Elvis Presley: The Searcher.” A four-page spread of his 1969 studio portraits of The Band is featured in Harvey Kubernik and Ken Kubernik’s “The Story of the Band: From Big Pink to The Last Waltz” (Sterling Publishing, 2018).  He has had recent exhibits in New York, Los Angeles, and Birmingham, England, and will have a pair of simultaneous gallery shows in Manhattan in the Spring of 2020.

Most significantly, in November, 2015, The Little Bookroom published a coffee-table book of Attie's portraits of Truman Capote and his street photography of Capote’s Brooklyn neighborhood entitled Brooklyn: A Personal Memoir, With The Lost Photographs of David Attie. The book was well-reviewed in The New York Times and other publications in America and around the world; The Independent named it one of the eight best art books of 2015. Its publication brought new attention and acclaim to Attie's work, including prominent supporters such as Bruce Weber and Mary Louise Parker.

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