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March 30, 2010

1948: A Circus Odyssey

Before Stanley Kubrick became Kubrick, director of 2001: A Space Odyssey, A Clockwork Orange, and Dr. Strangelove, he was Stan, teenage whiz-kid photographer. In April 1945, when FDR died, Kubrick took a picture of a newspaper vendor sitting in his booth, tired eyes gazing past the headline Roosevelt Dead, and sold it to Look magazine for $25. Kubrick was just 16. After high school he enrolled in night classes at the City College of New York, but mainly he worked as a Look staff photographer, traveling around the country and abroad. In 1948 he visited the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey circus at its winter location in Florida, where he shot this photo, evidence of the 19-year-old’s already strong eye for composition, color, and narrative. From The Circus, 1870–1950, out in September from Taschen, $200; taschen.com