From Fur Coats to the Velvet Underground

Photographer Jerry Schatzberg Reminisces on Edie, Andy and the Gang

<i>Jerry Schatzberg began his career in fashion in the family business, manufacturing fur coats. Uninspired by his job he would take two-hour lunches to walk around the city and stare, intrigued, at cameras. After breaking free and assisting Bill Helburn, Schatzberg took to his own studio befriending, dating and capturing countless famous faces before segueing into feature films. In giving Al Pacino one of his first roles in the gritty Panic in Needle Park, documenting Faye Dunaway as a down-on-her-luck model in Puzzle of a Downfall Child, and hiring Gene Hackman in the Palm d'Or-winning Scarecrow, Schatzberg's movies were as successful as his photographs. Below he recounts shooting Warhol Superstar Edie Sedgwick in 1960.

"It’s difficult to have a favorite image because I consider them all my friends. The Edie photograph, for example, was interesting because Albert Grossman––who was Bob Dylan’s manager at the time––wanted to represent her because she was quite a personality, but he didn’t know what for, so asked me to photograph her. Later I ran into Andy [Warhol] with the documentarian Barbara Rubin and I told him I was going to photograph Edie. By the time I got back to the studio, Barbara called and said Andy was wondering if I would shoot five minutes of footage for his film on Edie, and I said yes. Five minutes later she called again and said Andy’s wondering if he can shoot five minutes of you shooting five minutes, and I said yes. And then Barbara called once more and asked if she could film the shoot herself and bring a few people. I said yes. Before I knew it 40 people showed up at my studio, including most of the Velvet Underground! I always remember shooting my five minutes with Edie in the dressing room whilst Andy was shooting us. His assistant Gerard Malanga said, 'But Andy, there’s no film in the camera!' and Andy said, 'Oh, it doesn’t matter.' Then I politely threw them all out and did these photographs of Edie." 

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