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The Friday Flashback: Art Shay Reads the Internets

By Chuck Sudo in Miscellaneous on Feb 1, 2008 3:30PM

"Simone de Beauvoir in Chicago, 1952" by Art Shay

Last week's "Flashback" installment on Art Shay proved to be pretty popular with fans of the famed photographer. We made mention of one of our favorite Shay photos, snapping French author and philosopher Simone de Beauvoir au natural in "Nelson Algren's bathroom" from 1952.

An Art Shay fan page linked to the post, which drew a response from Shay himself, clarifying some misconceptions of his shot of de Beauvoir:

(B)ut you, Chuck ... have the provenance of my grab shot wrong. a) It wasn't shot in Nelson Algren's bathroom, but in the bathroom I borrowed from a friend for Madame de Beauvoir to use because Nelson's bathroom in his $10 a month pad (1952) was bathless. b) The New Yorker, pleasantly expatiating by the seat of the (author Adam Gopnik's) pants, averred that Algren had commissioned the nude shot from me. Nelson did mention, while asking me to find a proper bathroom for his lady, that Madame rarely closed bathroom doors when abluting or anything else. So and there I was, a 30-year-old Life photographer, not shy, who always carried a Leica.

After exchanging messages with the author of the Shay fan page we confirmed that it indeed was Art Shay who weighed in. We find it completely cool that - in his mid-eighties - Shay has a better grasp on modern technology than a comparably aged Alaskan Senator.

Anyway, here's the shot in question.