Jack Robinson

Author of Jack Robinson on Show

"Jack was a joy to work with.  He was very low key and gave his subjects freedom to evolve according to the spirit of the moment, which gives his work a refreshing spontaneity."
- Gloria Vanderbilt
 

Jack Robinson was born in 1928 in Mississippi. His career as a photographer began during the early fifties in New Orleans where he documented the city’s vibrant cultural scene. He moved to New York and as a fashion photographer, by the end of the fifties, his images were regularly featuring in Life and The New York Times. In 1961, Diana Vreeland described his portraits as ‘perfectly beautiful... each [photo] has personality and a great deal of character – and that is your big strong point’. He continued to work with fashion editor Carrie Donovan at The New York Times until 1965 when he moved to Vogue and shot many of his most memorable images.

"When I look at these pictures, I remember that time in the 1970s and how many doors were opening for me. The two photos of me in this book were part of a session in October 1971, just one month after the premiere of my first film, The Last Picture Show. The photo that appears later in the book reminds me of not only how thrilling that time was, but how joyful it was to open that door and see Jack. My expression in the photo on the opposite page is one of true amazement. Actually, I was amazed that I was able to climb up on that high wall with no assistance … and that I managed not to fall off. These boots were made for climbing! Jack and I were both from Memphis, the capital of the Mississippi Delta, home to Elvis, Faulkner, B.B. King, and so many other artists. It was the hub of creativity. Jack and I not only shared the Memphis connection, but a very strong music connection. His beautiful hands photographed all the stunning portraits in this book and many more, and I knew from the start that I was in the best of hands. The Mississippi River and the Delta get in your blood at an early age. They infuse those who are open to them with a sense of grounding that can carry one through a trying life. They can give you the blues and take you to the highest highs. They introduce you to all people on a common ground. They did that for me and I would suspect they did that for Jack, too. Here’s why I believe that: Being photographed is a highly intimate exchange of emotions and feelings. It’s a marriage of sorts—if only for those brief moments. What happens in those moments are feelings captured forever. The photographer looks through his or her eyes and looks into yours with focus and a yearning to make art. And even though there’s a machine between you—it doesn’t exist because you are one when you are photographed. And, it’s a dance, a seduction and an indelibly moving series of moments—ecstatic, lovely, sexy, fun, and memorable. As a person, Jack had all of those qualities and brought them out in me, too. As a young girl, I knew that I had to leave Memphis in order to survive. I never intended to follow in the traditional mold. I wanted more out of life and my instincts led me to New York. Jack mirrored those instincts and took the same path. I look at these photos of some acquaintances, some friends, and some I don’t know and I feel closer to them than I ever imagined … all thanks to dear Jack. Jack Robinson, a man with whom I will be connected always—always in my heart."

Visit the Jack Robinson Archive