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Outstanding Photos: The candid photo of Simone de Beauvoir March 8, 2009

Posted by t-maker in History, Miscellaneous, Outstanding Photos, Photos.
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In 1952 (or in 1951) the philosopher Simone de Beauvoir spent some time in Chicago visiting the writer Nelson Algren. During that visit the photographer Art Shay, who was Algren’s best friend and was 30 years old at that time, made his famous candid photo of Simone de Beauvoir getting dressed in the bathroom.

Simone de Beauvoir in Chicago

Art Shay wrote about his shot of Simone de Beauvoir the following.

… my friend Nelson Algren was upset because his rented apartment $ 10 per month had no bathtub or shower. So he asked me is there a place for Madame to bathe or shower. He warned me with a humorous that “Frenchy”, as he said, rarely closed the door of the bathroom, especially that of his apartment which the hinge was broken. I borrowed the keys to the apartment of a young woman I knew that were left under the doormat. I went to Nelson with Simone … about 15 minutes north to the apartment of my friend. … As a young photographer from Life Magazine, I had always my Leica with me. This day was no exception. … So I was there, intern photographer for Life Magazine (originally hired to carry the bags and write captions), when I saw Beauvoir emerged from the bath and her hair before the mirror. I took two or three quick shots and she heard the click. “You’re a naughty boy,” she said, but without closing the door or asking me to stop taking photos …

This photo has drawn public attention when appeared on the cover of french newsmagazine Nouvel Observateur on January 3, 2008.


1. Simone de Beauvoir in Chicago by Art Shay presented by Stephen Daiter Gallery

2. Beauvoir, Simone de [Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy]

3. Susie Bright’s Journal: Simone de Beauvoir Gets Dressed

4. The Friday Flashback: Art Shay Reads the Internets – Chicagoist: Chicago News, Food, Arts & Events

5. Toril Moi. Simone de Beauvoir: The Making of an Intellectual Woman, Oxford University Press, 2008.

6. Paris : Stormy birthday party for Simone de Beauvoir! « Paris Connected

7. Photo de Simone de Beauvoir : Art Shay raconte, Culture – NouvelObs.com