For over 70 years, photographer Art Shay has documented life, combining his gifts of storytelling, humor and empathy. Born in 1922, he grew up in the Bronx and then served in the US Army Air Forces during World War II where he navigated 30 bombing missions and 22 covert aid missions.
From 1947-1949, while on staff as a writer for Life magazine, Shay wrote hundreds of bylines while helping out some of the greatest of Life’s photographers. In 1949, Shay became a Chicago-based freelance photographer, landing thousands of assignments for Life, Time, Sports Illustrated and other national publications.
Shay photographed nine US Presidents along with many major literary, business, entertainment, science and political figures of the 20th century. A world class street photographer, Shay wondered countless miles throughout the 1950s exploring Chicago with author Nelson Algren, the winner of the first National Book Award.
Shay wrote weekly columns for various newspapers, several plays, children’s books and sports instruction books. Following his 2000 autobiography Album for An Age, Shay has published several photo essay books including Animals, Couples, Chicago’s Nelson Algren and My Florence. Shay’s photography is included in the permanent collections of museums including the National Portrait Gallery and the Art Institute of Chicago.