Acknowledged as one of America’s greatest photographers and portraitists, Scavullo has captured on film some of the most famous personalities of the 20th century. An inspiration for generations of photographers, his work portrayed the sculptural qualities of beauty and character. As famous as the people he photographed, for over 50 years Scavullo immortalized celebrities in every field of endeavor. Among the eclectic mix were emerging and established stars in fashion, beauty, music, film, theatre and sports. Scavullo’s innovative lighting technique and impeccable artistry created iconic images that are now part of the American cultural landscape.
Scavullo was a life-long New Yorker, born in Staten Island on January 16,1929. When he was six, his family moved to Manhattan, where his father had bought a chic supper club. It was the elder Scavullo’s dream that his son would one day follow him into the business. Fascinated by images of beauty, the youngster’s interests included window-shopping on Fifth Avenue and looking through his mother’s fashion magazines. The aspiring young photographer began by taking snapshots with his father’s camera, drafting his sisters as models. Upon graduating from high school, Scavullo found work at a studio that produced fashion catalogs. He soon moved to Vogue magazine, where he worked with prominent fashion photographers Cecil Beaton, John Rawlings, and Horst P. Horst. Scavullo was Horst’s assistant, studying his methods, and learning how to employ camera angles and lighting techniques such as using muslin filters or bouncing light off a white umbrella to make the most flattering pictures possible.
Scavullo shot his first cover for Seventeen, launching his career as a fashion photographer, and throughout the 50’s and 60’s he was in constant demand. In 1965 Cosmopolitan editor Helen Gurley Brown hired him to develop a sexier look for the magazine’s cover. Scavullo created the Cosmo Girl, celebrating women’s sexuality. He shot every cover for the next 30 years. Beginning in 1972, he was assisted by stylist and editor Sean M. Byrnes who became his life partner. Scavullo created memorable shots for album covers, movie posters, and Broadway shows. His photographs graced the covers of Vogue, Rolling Stone, Life, Time, Newsweek, Town and Country, Harper’s Bazaar, Mademoiselle, Glamour, Harper’s and Queen, L’Officiel and Max.
Scavullo worked until the very end of his life, and both his passion for photography and artistry remained strong. Scavullo died in New York on January 6, 2004. His partner in life and art, Sean Byrnes, survives him.
Francesco Scavullo: A Photographic Retrospective
One hundred celebrated images comprise Francesco Scavullo: A Photographic Retrospective. The collection includes some of his most compelling work, including several important album and magazine covers from Vogue, Cosmopolitan, Harper’s Bazaar, Rolling Stone, Time and Town and Country.
The “Song” portfolio features Mick Jagger, Sting, Janis Joplin, Bernadette Peters, Diana Ross, Cher, Luciano Pavarotti, Ravi Shankar, Lena Horne and Deborah Harry. The second portfolio to be released very soon titled “Hollywood Women”, features iconic actresses Lauren Bacall, Sophia Loren, Liza Minnelli, Barbra Streisand, Faye Dunaway, Susan Sarandon, Rene Russo, Elizabeth Taylor, Glenn Close and Bette Midler. These editions are “Archive Prints” (silver gelatin) made from the original negative and authenticated by Sean Byrnes. Sean Byrnes was Scavullo’s collaborator, photo editor, stylist and life partner.
Scavullo’s photographs are part of the permanent collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, MOMA, Guggenheim and the Amon Carter Museum in Fort Worth Texas. Accordingly, the retrospective has been included in the permanent collections of leading international museums, most notably The National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution.
The Motion Picture Group
The Motion Picture Group is a fine art publishing company. In addition to Scavullo, we have published the work of artists Tom Baril, and Deborah Turbeville. Working closely with the Scavullo Foundation, we handle all queries relating to Scavullo’s photographs.
Scavullo on Beauty, 1976
Scavullo, Men, 1977
Scavullo, Photographs, 50 Years, 1997
Scavullo, Women, 1982
Scavullo, Nudes, 2000