The Most Famous Pictures That You’ve Never Seen

Contact sheets from some of history’s most iconic images are on view at the Fahey/Klein gallery in LA

© Joel Brodsky Estate, Courtesy of Fahey/Klein Gallery, Los Angeles
Jim Morrison, The American Poet (Contact Sheet), 1968© Joel Brodsky Estate, Courtesy of Fahey/Klein Gallery, Los Angeles

Some photographs are as iconic as the people they capture. It’s hard, for instance, to not think of Jim Morrison without picturing him gaunt, shirtless and stoic as Joel Brodsky immortalized him in 1967 for his “American Poet” shot, or to even imagine Lee Harvey Oswald not forever frozen in pain thanks to Jack Ruby’s bullet catching him mid-perp walk in Robert Jackson’s Pulitzer-winning news footage of that fateful day in Dallas.

© Herb Ritts Foundation, Courtesy of Fahey/Klein Gallery, Los Angeles
Versace Dress, Back View, El Mirage (Contact Sheet), 1990© Herb Ritts Foundation, Courtesy of Fahey/Klein Gallery, Los Angeles

But what about the photos taken during those same shoots that aren't as famous? Los Angeles' Fahey/Klein Gallery is celebrating both with its latest exhibit, Contact. Running through January 28, the showcase displays contact sheets for some of the most memorable shoots in fashion, pop culture, and history next to large-scale renderings of the final results. Aside from Brodsky and Jackson's works, there are glimpses into Herb Ritts' OCD-like attention to detail as he obsesses over slight differences in photos of the back of a model in a Versace dress for his "El Mirage" project in 1990 and also into how controlling Marilyn Monroe was of her own image after a photo shoot with Lawrence Schiller (she used a red marker to veto all but two photographs—one of which didn't even show her face).

© Herb Ritts Foundation, Courtesy of Fahey/Klein Gallery, Los Angeles
Versace Dress, Back View, El Mirage, 1990© Herb Ritts Foundation, Courtesy of Fahey/Klein Gallery, Los Angeles

“People have done contact sheet shows before, but they were oversized contact sheets so you could see the whole shoot,” Fahey/Klein Gallery gallery owner David Fahey says. “What I like about this show is we try to select iconic photographs and then we try to find the contact sheet related to it, so you’re looking at the little teeny image that this massive, oversized print came from. You can see the evolution of the shoot and the final big print. I just like the idea of the little thing and the big thing.”

He says the choice in photographs was an “exhibition that grew out of our ability to locate things quickly,” as contact sheets tend to be owned by different people or corporations and his gallery staff usually only has weeks to prepare for each showcase. A fan of photojournalism, Fahey has placed the Oswald photograph near Stephen Somerstein’s photos of Martin Luther King, Jr. in Selma, Alabama, telling the stories behind two of the most important photographs of America in the 1960s. (He adds that it was just a coincidence that Phil Stern’s photographs of Frank Sinatra and an out-of-focus John F. Kennedy on the latter’s presidential inauguration night are across the room from Oswald.)

© Stephen Somerstein, Courtesy of Fahey/Klein Gallery, Los Angeles
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. speaking to 25,000 civil rights marchers at end of Selma to Montgomery, Alabama march, March 25 (Contact Sheet), 1965© Stephen Somerstein, Courtesy of Fahey/Klein Gallery, Los Angeles

“When we sequence the show, it’s really based on formal issues: how it looks on the wall and how the shapes work,” Fahey says. “And, secondarily, we try to combine thematic things and images from the same period that represent the same kind of idea.”

Fahey says he doesn’t mind that the exhibit is “a mixed group” of genres of celebrity. He cites one of the items—William Claxton’s capturing of fashion model Peggy Moffitt wearing Rudi Gernreich’s infamous Monokini—as a “classic,” but knows that not everyone may think so. He also likes the “subtle differences” in Julian Wasser’s photographs of Joan Didion, which are also on display, adding that “with all of the people in those images, it’s so much to with what they want to project; that unguarded moment that is acceptable but is also authentic.”

© Stephen Somerstein, Courtesy of Fahey/Klein Gallery, Los Angeles

Selma to Montgomery March

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. speaking to 25,000 civil rights marchers at end of Selma to Montgomery, Alabama march, March 25, 1965© Stephen Somerstein, Courtesy of Fahey/Klein Gallery, Los Angeles

“I like the fact that pictures become famous for different reasons; they connect with people and there’s a reason for it,” Fahey says. “It’s kind of like a golden moment that people can relate to at different levels. They may not like the photographer’s work, but [it’s] that single picture that connects. So many people, so many photographers, if they’re lucky make a great single picture and then they work their whole career trying to do other pictures.”

© Harry Benson, Courtesy of Fahey/Klein Gallery
Beatles Pillow Fight, Paris (Contact Sheet), 1963© Harry Benson, Courtesy of Fahey/Klein Gallery
© Harry Benson, Courtesy of Fahey/Klein Gallery
Beatles Pillow Fight, Paris, 1964© Harry Benson, Courtesy of Fahey/Klein Gallery
© Steve Schapiro, Courtesy of Fahey/Klein Gallery, Los Angeles
Andy Warhol, Edie Sedgwick and Entourage (Contact Sheet), 1965© Steve Schapiro, Courtesy of Fahey/Klein Gallery, Los Angeles
© Steve Schapiro, Courtesy of Fahey/Klein Gallery, Los Angeles
Andy Warhol, Edie Sedgwick and Entourage, 1965© Steve Schapiro, Courtesy of Fahey/Klein Gallery, Los Angeles
© Norman Seeff, Courtesy of Fahey/Klein Gallery, Los Angeles
Carly Simon, "Carly Playing Possum," Los Angeles (Contact Sheet), 1974© Norman Seeff, Courtesy of Fahey/Klein Gallery, Los Angeles
© Norman Seeff, Courtesy of Fahey/Klein Gallery, Los Angeles
Carly Simon, "Carly Playing Possum," Los Angeles, 1974© Norman Seeff, Courtesy of Fahey/Klein Gallery, Los Angeles
© 1963 Julian Wasser, Courtesy of Fahey/Klein Gallery, Los Angeles
Marcel Duchamp Playing Chess with a Nude Eve Babitz (Contact Sheet), 1963© 1963 Julian Wasser, Courtesy of Fahey/Klein Gallery, Los Angeles
© 1963 Julian Wasser, Courtesy of Fahey/Klein Gallery, Los Angeles
Marcel Duchamp Playing Chess with a Nude Eve Babitz, 1963© 1963 Julian Wasser, Courtesy of Fahey/Klein Gallery, Los Angeles
© Bob Willoughby Estate, Courtesy of Fahey/Klein Gallery, Los Angeles
Katharine Ross & Dustin Hoffman, running from the church at the end of "The Graduate", Paramount Studios (Contact Sheet), 1967© Bob Willoughby Estate, Courtesy of Fahey/Klein Gallery, Los Angeles
© Bob Willoughby Estate, Courtesy of Fahey/Klein Gallery, Los Angeles
Katharine Ross & Dustin Hoffman, running from the church at the end of "The Graduate", Paramount Studios (REF # A070), 1967© Bob Willoughby Estate, Courtesy of Fahey/Klein Gallery, Los Angeles
ADVERTISEMENT