In 2005, the artist Len Steckler lost his left eye to cancer.
What would have been a devastating blow to most people instead made Steckler more
obsessed with sight. His former binocular vision became monocular, and he started
to see the world with more clarity and concentration. It shows in his photography
of recent years, and one can now observe more texture, intense colors, and formerly
hidden shapes. Steckler brings this new dimension in a unique approach to image.
Len Steckler was born and raised in New York, was drawing by the age of five, and
studied at Pratt Institute and the Art Student’s League. As a young illustrator,
he won the National Academy Design Award and, after being part of the prestigious
Charles Cooper studio, he gained prominence as the originator of the campaign for
the first diet drink, Diet Pepsi. His illustrations appeared in all the leading
magazines of the day such as, Collier’s, Good Housekeeping, The
Ladies’ Home Journal, and The Saturday Evening Post. He was a
member of the Society of Illustrators in New York.
While painting, he often relied on his photograph of the model for further reference,
and magazine editors started to buy these photographs. Steckler studied photography
with Alexy Brodovitch and Edward Steichen, Carl Sandburg’s brother-in law, who became
his mentor. He phased out illustration, and in the 60’s and 70’s, Steckler became
famous for his fashion and beauty photography. His work appeared in major ad campaigns
for Revlon, Cover Girl, AT&T, many Proctor and Gamble products, and American Airlines,
to name a few. His photographs appeared in Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar
and he photographed celebrities such as Marilyn Monroe, Carl Sandburg, Andrés Segovia,
John Wayne, and Joanne Woodward. He launched the careers of young models such as
Jennifer O’Neill, Susan Blakeley, Cybil Shepherd, and he worked with supermodels
Suzy Parker, Verushka, and Jean Shrimpton.
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