Henri Dauman ‘Looks Up’ in the Hamptons

Henri Dauman, the French-born photographer who came to New York after losing both parents in World War II, is the subject of a new documentary,  Henri Dauman: Looking Up, which will premiere this weekend at the Hamptons International Film Festival. Dauman photographed Marilyn on several occasions, including the 1959 David di Donatello Awards (see above.) He has spoken about his long career in an interview for The Hamptons website.

“Henri Dauman is one of the world’s most preeminent photographers, working with the likes of JFK, Elvis Presley, Marilyn Monroe, Andy Warhol, Jane Fonda, Malcolm X, Miles Davis, Yves Saint-Laurent and many, many more. However, since Dauman came of age during a time when photographers weren’t widely recognized for their exceptional works, he’s not necessarily a household name, as he well deserves to be.

The photographer was featured in his first solo exhibition in 2014, and his photos have been showcased in several more since. Now his extraordinary life is the subject of the directorial debut of Peter Kenneth Jones’ Henri Dauman: Looking Up…

How did moving to New York impact your photography? 

HD: A lot because all of the sudden I was in the land that I was dreaming about while seeing American movies. When I was a child I went quite a bit to the movies and saw a lot of American movies. I said, ‘My god, I finally landed in Hollywood-land.’ I was very impressed with the skyscrapers, the size of the city, which was different than Paris which is smaller on the human scale. Here, everything was large…

What does it mean to you that your work still resonates deeply with people, many, many years after these photographs were initially taken?

HD: I’m very pleased because I thought my work was fading away, but apparently, unbeknownst to me, I had covered a great story overall of the evolution of the United States from the ’50s to the ’80s. I didn’t know it at the time, but I did so many varied stories – whether it’s a civil rights story or shooting Marilyn Monroe or Brigitte Bardot, when you add up all the stories, it added up to a narrative history of the United States.”

Henri Dauman’s Marilyn in LA

The French-born photographer, Henri Dauman, who photographed Marilyn at several public events from 1957-59, is the subject of a new retrospective at KP Projects (LaBrea Gallery) in Los Angeles from April 28-May 12, as Benjamin Svetkey writes in the Hollywood Reporter. Dauman also photographed Jacqueline Kennedy, Elvis Presley, Andy Warhol, Brigitte Bardot and many others. A documentary, Henri Dauman: Looking Up, is in the works, and you can see more of his Marilyn photos here.

“When I was a young child growing up in Paris [where he was orphaned at 13, after his parents were killed in the Holocaust], I saw all the film noir movies. And that’s what inspired my photography. Before working at LIFE, when I was 18 or 19, I sold a big layout on Marilyn Monroe in Paris. And then I shot Jane Fonda for an Italian magazine. I was beating out all these LIFE magazine photographers — LIFE would send three or four teams of photographers to Paris to try to get different thing and here I was, this little guy, getting all these pictures. So that’s how, in 1958, I got a call to do my first assignment for LIFE.”

 

Henri Dauman: Photographing Marilyn

March of Dimes fundraiser, 1958
March of Dimes fashion show, January 1957

Time has published an article about photographer Henri Dauman, whose work graced the pages of Life, Newsweek and the New York Times. Dauman photographed Marilyn at several public events during the late 1950s, mostly in New York. Self-taught, and inspired by cinema, Dauman escaped the holocaust and was orphaned at 13, fleeing France for America. A documentary, Henri Dauman: Looking Up, is currently in the fundraising stage.

The Millers at a preview of 'Some Like it Hot', 1959
The Millers at a preview of ‘Some Like it Hot’, February 1959
'Some Like it Hot' premiere, Chicago (March 1959)
‘Some Like it Hot’ premiere, Chicago (March 1959)
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Named as Best Actress for ‘The Prince and the Showgirl’ at the David di Donatello Awards, May 1959.