Beckett Photographs Displayed in New York

John Minihan's portrait of Samuel Beckett. (Photo: John Minihan)

By Olivia O’Mahony, Editorial Assistant
October / November 2017

An exhibition featuring Dublin-born photographer John Minihan’s black and white portraiture of Samuel Beckett and those he worked with in his lifetime, opened at the Irish Arts Center in New York in September. The exhibition, “John Minihan: Beckett and his World” is on view through December 15. Minihan first expressed interest in photographing Beckett after the playwright won the Nobel Prize for literature in 1969, noting that all available pictures of Beckett were low in quality: “It was like he didn’t exist – that was the moment I decided I wanted to meet this man and take his photograph.” They first met in 1980, and some time later, Minihan took his best-known photograph of Beckett (above), a candid shot in a Parisian cafe that appears on the cover of Minihan’s 1995 book of Beckett photos. Publisher John Calder credited Minihan with capturing “the introspective, infinitely sad gaze of a man looking into the abyss of the world’s woes.”

“We talked until 4:50 p.m. He mesmerized me,” Minihan told the Guardian about the photo. “Daylight was quickly disappearing and I thought the moment had passed. Then Sam said: ‘John, would you like to take a photograph?’ I got out my Rolleiflex and took three frames. They turned out better than I expected because Sam directed the whole scene. He wanted it to say: ‘This is who I am.’” ♦

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