Douglas Kirkland started his career in 1957 as an apprentice to photographer Irving Penn. At the time, he was hired by Look Magazine during what has become known as the golden age of photojournalism. His assignments in the 1960s and 70s were essays on Greece, Lebanon, and Japan as well as fashion and celebrity work, photographing Elizabeth Taylor, Marilyn Monroe, and Marlene Dietrich among others.
Over the decades, Kirkland has photographed legendary, well-known individuals and completed scores of projects and books. He has also worked with film directors on over 100 film sets, both in the U.S. and abroad.
COCO CHANEL, 1962
In 1962, at the age of 27, Kirkland received an assignment from Look Magazine to photograph Coco Chanel (1883 – 1971) for a story on the legendary fashion icon. For a period of three weeks, Kirkland shadowed Mademoiselle Chanel capturing her intense schedule and daily routine with models, fitters, clients, and friends. In order to gain her trust and approval, Chanel instructed Kirkland to initially photograph models wearing her collection and submit the prints for her review. Chanel was so taken with the young man and his photographic skill; she allowed him access to her private rooms, surveying her everyday movements. In addition to fashion images, Kirkland and Chanel took a day trip to Versailles resulting in surreal photographs of the 'grande dame' appropriately set in the royal gardens. Coco Chanel revolutionized women's fashion with creations and style, including the 'little black dress', Chanel's signature cardigan jacket, women's casual wear, non-corseted fashions, quilted handbags, short hairstyles, mixing real and costume jewelry, and many other styles and trends, as well as Chanel No. 5, the world's best selling perfume. In many images, Chanel is wearing her trademark hat and pearls, scissors hanging from a ribbon around her neck and smoking constantly while she worked. Chanel did not sketch her designs so her creations took effect while draping fabric directly on the models. Coco Chanel was the epitome of a strong, independent woman, never married, who struggled yet persevered with a passion that consumed her throughout her life. Today, Kirkland remembers with great fondness and admiration the days spent with Coco Chanel. His photographs provide a personal view of this extraordinary individual, the most influential fashion designer of the 20th century.
The negatives of these photographs have been in the well-known photographer's vault until exhibited by WESTWOOD GALLERY NYC in 2009. The exhibition of 40 photographs, a documentation of intimate and public moments of a woman who transformed 20th century fashion, traveled to Hawaii, Hong Kong, Tokyo.
Photographed by Kirkland on November 17, 1961, Marilyn Monroe died a few months later in 1962. The stunning photographs of Monroe as she posed for Kirkland lying on a bed enveloped only in white silk sheets have since become iconic. The 1961 photo shoot became an historic event, due to the intimate exchange between Kirkland and Monroe. At the time, Kirkland was a young 27 year old photojournalist for Look Magazine, who spent the evening alone with Monroe, a 35 year old sex symbol and film star.
Besides the iconic images of Marilyn, this series of work includes behind the scenes black and white photographs of Kirkland, taken during his photo shoot with Monroe in a California studio. The photo session required three encounters with Monroe, which according to Kirkland was like meeting three different women. Prior to the shoot she was a sweet, naïve actress, during the photo session he encountered a seductress and the following day Monroe was a distressed, despondent woman.
ICONS AND LEGENDS
Some of Kirkland's notable subjects include Man Ray, Andy Warhol, Marilyn Monroe, Elizabeth Taylor, Audrey Hepburn, Charlie Chaplin, Judy Garland, Orson Welles, John Wayne, Coco Chanel, Pierre Cardin, Jacques Henri Lartigue, Dr. Stephen Hawking, Mick Jagger, Sting, Morgan Freeman, Mikhail Baryshnikov, Leonardo DiCaprio, Brigitte Bardot, Sophia Loren, Catherine Deneuve, Michael Jackson, and Diana Ross.
Photographs © Douglas Kirkland
2013 - Douglas Kirkland’s 50-Year Love Affair with Photography, Southeast Museum of Photography, Daytona Beach, FL
2012 - An Evening With Marilyn, Westwood Gallery, NYC
2011 - Coco Chanel, 1962, Chanel Nexus Hall, Tokyo, Japan. Curated by James Cavello, Westwood Gallery
2011 - Coco Chanel, 1962, The Rotunda in Exchange Square Central, Hong Kong. Curated by James Cavello, Westwood Gallery
2010 - Douglas Kirkland Retrospective, Triennale di Milano, Milan, Italy
2010 - Douglas Kirkland, My Life in Pictures, Queensland Art Gallery, Brisbane, Australia
2009 - Coco Chanel, 1962, Chanel Boutique, Waikiki, Honolulu, HI. Curated by James Cavello, Westwood Gallery
2009 - Fashion and Fame: A Photographic Exhibition, Bangkok, Thailand
2009 - Life as a Legend: Marilyn Monroe, Winnipeg Art Gallery, Canada
2008 - Coco Chanel, 1962, Westwood Gallery, NYC
2008 - Freeze Frame, Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, Beverly Hills, CA
2007 - Freeze Frame, Westwood Gallery, NYC
2006 - Cinema Moments, An Intimate Look Behind the Scenes with Douglas Kirkland, Cedro26 Galleria Fotografica, Rome, Italy
2005 - An Evening with Marilyn, Westwood Gallery, NYC
1990 - Douglas Kirkland’s Light Years: Three Decades Photographing Among the Stars, International Center of Photography, NYC
1965 - The Photo Essay, Museum of Modern Art, NYC
2015 - Audrey Hepburn: Portraits of an Icon, National Portrait Gallery, London
2015 - Audrey Hepburn: Portraits of an Icon, National Portrait Gallery, Washington D.C.
2011 - Life as a Legend: Marilyn Monroe, Andy Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh, PA
2010 - Life as a Legend: Marilyn Monroe, Museum of Contamporary Art, Jacksonville, FL
2009 - Life as a Legend: Marilyn Monroe, Glenbow Museum, Calgary, Canada
2009 - L8S ANG3LES, Annenberg Space for Photography, Los Angeles, CA
2008 - Life as a Legend: Marilyn Monroe, Fine Arts Center, Colorado Springs, CO
2008 - Life as a Legend: Marilyn Monroe, Chicago Cultural Center, Chicago, IL
2008 - Life as a Legend: Marilyn Monroe, Saginaw Art Museum, Saginaw, MI
2007 - Life as a Legend: Marilyn Monroe, Dayton Art Institute, Dayton, OH
2007 - Life as a Legend: Marilyn Monroe, Huntington Museum of Art, Huntington, WV
2007 - Life as a Legend: Marilyn Monroe, Sioux City Art Center, Sioux City, IA
2007 - Life as a Legend: Marilyn Monroe, Art Gallery of Nova Scotia, Halifax, Canada
2006 - Life as a Legend: Marilyn Monroe, Boca Raton Museum of Art, Boca Raton, FL
1987 - A Day in the Life of America, Nikon House, NY, NY
2014 - City Beat
> Freeze Frame: Second Cut, Photographs by Douglas Kirkland
> A Life in Pictures: The Douglas Kirkland Monograph
> When We Were Young, Photographs by Douglas Kirkland
> Come Una Pin Up, Photographs by Douglas Kirkland
> With Marilyn: An Evening 1961, Photographs by Douglas Kirkland
> Michael Jackson: The Making of “Thriller”, Photographs by Douglas Kirkland
> Mademoiselle: Coco Chanel, Photographs by Douglas Kirkland. Text by Karl Lagerfeld
> Coco Chanel: Three Weeks, Photographs by Douglas Kirkland
> Freeze Frame, Photographs by Douglas Kirkland
> An Evening with Marilyn, Photographs by Douglas Kirkland
> Mother and Child: Wildlife Photography, Photographs by Douglas Kirkland and Reg Grundy
> Legends, Photographs by Douglas Kirkland
> Body Stories, Photographs by Douglas Kirkland
> James Cameron’s Titanic, Photographs by Douglas Kirkland
> Showgirls: Portrait of a Film, Photographs by Douglas Kirkland. Text by Paul Verhoeven
> Icons: Creativity With Camera and Computer, Photographs by Douglas Kirkland
> Light Years: 3 Decades of Photography Among the Stars, Photographs by Douglas Kirkland
The Smithsonian Institution, Washington D.C.
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, Beverly Hills, CA
National Portrait Gallery, London, UK
National Portrait Gallery, Canberra, King Edward Terrace, Parkes, Australia
George Eastman House, Rochester, NY
Houston Center for Photography, Houston, TX
Annenberg Space for Photography, Los Angeles, CA
Southeast Museum of Photography at Daytona College