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Louisville Photo Biennial Keynote Speaker – Lawrence Schiller

September 21, 2023 at 5:30 pm - 8:00 pm

Louisville Photo Biennial Keynote Speaker – Lawrence Schiller

Thursday, September 21

5:30 pm Reception
6:30 pm Presentation

Grand Hall


The Biennial is excited to announce our Keynote Speaker for 2023 is photojournalist, author, and film director/producer Lawrence Schiller. Best known as a photographer for his work with celebrities like Marilyn Monroe, Robert F. Kennedy, Richard Nixon, Muhammad Ali, and Barbara Streisand, Schiller also had his hand in many iconic movies including Butch Cassidy & the Sundance Kid, Lady Sings the Blues and the Oscar-winning documentary, The Man Who Skied Down Everest. He also embedded himself in the “Dream Team” defense at the O. J. Simpson murder trial and co-wrote the bestseller, American Tragedy, about the experience.

The Biennial Keynote address will take place at the Speed Art Museum on Thursday, September 21 at 6:30 pm. The Paul Paletti Gallery will feature a show of Mr. Schiller’s work from August 31 – September 29.

Though a childhood accident left him with impaired vision in one eye, Lawrence Schiller became an obsessive photographer; even while attending Pepperdine College, his pictures had already appeared in Life, Sport, Playboy, Glamour, and the Saturday Evening Post. Schiller’s interests and ambitions soon developed into a profession in print journalism, documenting major stories for glossy magazines all over the world, including Life, Look, Newsweek, Time, Paris Match, Stern, and the London Sunday Times. His iconic images of Robert F. Kennedy, Richard Nixon, Bette Davis, Barbra Streisand, Marilyn Monroe, Muhammad Ali, and Madame Nhu, among others are tributes to his doggedness, ingenuity, and charm as well as to his technical proficiency.

In November 1963, while on assignment for the Saturday Evening Post, he reached Dallas in time to photograph Lee Harvey Oswald. Later, he landed Jack Ruby’s final interview. After extensive interviews with the widow of Lenny Bruce in 1968, Schiller and the writer Albert Goldman published Ladies and Gentlemen, Lenny Bruce (1974); and, with the photographer W. Eugene Smith, he produced Minamata (1975), the epic pictorial chronicle of mercury poisoning in Japan.

Schiller moved into motion pictures by directing a portion of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969) with Paul Newman and Robert Redford, and Lady Sings the Blues (1972) with Diana Ross. In 1971, he produced and co-directed with L.M. Kit Carson the acclaimed documentary, The American Dreamer on Dennis Hopper. His editorial direction of The Man Who Skied Down Everest (1972) won an Oscar for Best Feature Documentary for its producer. After obtaining extraordinary cooperation from the Kremlin, in 1986, he executive produced and co-directed Peter the Great, the Emmy Award-winning television mini-series starring Maximilian Schell, Vanessa Redgrave, and Laurence Olivier.

Perhaps nothing in Schiller’s career proved more remarkable, though, than his collaboration with Norman Mailer—a friendship unique in American literary history. For nearly thirty-five years, the two worked closely together on books including Marilyn (1973), The Faith of Graffiti (1974), Oswald’s Tale (1995), Into the Mirror (2002), and The Executioner’s Song (1979), for which Mailer won the Pulitzer Prize. Schiller, who conceived of the project, did much of the legwork, interviews, and research for the book, while outmaneuvering numerous other reporters to gain exclusive access to the book’s subject, Gary Gilmore, and went on to produce and direct the award-winning television miniseries based upon it, starring Tommy Lee Jones.

Schiller embedded himself into the so-called “Dream Team” defending O. J. Simpson, and with his unique insider’s perspective on the case, co-wrote (with James Willwerth) the New York Times number one best-selling American Tragedy (1996). His reporting on antisocial behavior soon became the basis for many books and motion pictures and documentaries for television, many of which he produced and directed.

Schiller has been a consultant to NBC News, the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation, and the Annie Leibovitz Studios, among many other photographic archives; and has written for The New Yorker, The Daily Beast, and other publications. Upon the death of Norman Mailer, in 2008, Schiller was named the President and Co-Founder of the Norman Mailer Center and Writer’s Colony in Provincetown, Massachusetts. He currently is a consultant and advisor to various estates and trusts on monetizing and preserving the legacy of noted figures in America.

This keynote presentation is related to the gallery exhibition Famous: Lawrence Schiller at the Paul Paletti Gallery, August 31-September 29, 713 E. Market Street, Louisville. For hours, and more information paulpalettigallery.com or 502.589.9254

For more information about the Louisville Photo Biennial, visit LouisvillePhotoBiennial.com 


September 21, 2023
5:30 pm - 8:00 pm
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