Garry Gross (1937-2010)

His name was well-known, even if it is whispered with muted distaste in photography and copyrights circles. His body of work is unknown, eclipsed by a single pictorial he undertook for American socialite Teri Shields. In 1975, Garry Gross scribbled his name into a dubious footnote in the history of photography by photographing a nude 10-year-old Brooke Shields. The photos of bejeweled soon-to-be-child-actress, in thick makeup and in a steaming, ornate bathtub, however, wouldn’t become known outside the arts community for another three years.

After seeing the photos Louis Malle cast Brooke Shields as a child prostitute in Pretty Baby, his acclaimed movie set during the last months of legal prostitution in New Orleans. The rest was history — and a rancorous one as that. Some two decades after New York’s highest court ruled that the photos are not “sexually suggestive, provocative or pornographic” and are distributable as long as they are not included in pornographic publications, the public remains as divided as ever before on the issue. On this blog, the post of Brooke Shields which detailed the controversy remains the most visited entry, and comments there represent a veritable cross-section of pluralistic viewpoints and range from informed to inane.

As for Garry Gross, he didn’t share the spotlight created by the controversy. His name was mentioned sporadically as the Brooke Shields controversy raged on, as when the famed appropriationist Richard Prince, who photographs other people’s photographs and exhibits them, dug this hoary old chestnut up again in 2007. “The photo has been infamous from the day I took it and I intended it to be…. she was supposed to look like a sexy woman,” Gross admitted to the Daily Telegraph then. But apart from occasional interview, Gross remained in semi-retirement. He was shunned by the society and rejected by galleries which were hesitant to court controversy by staging Gross exhibits. Never returning to celebrity photography, Garry Gross worked and died as a humble dog photographer and trainer. He is 73.

 

17 thoughts on “Garry Gross (1937-2010)

  1. There’s a mistake, in this post is said that the photoshoot took place in 1975, but in the original post, it reads: “In July 1978, at the age of thirteen, Brooke Shields made front page news in Photo Magazine…”

    Which date is the correct one?

    Cheers

  2. The mistake is yours, Jose:

    The entry clearly states that although the photo was “taken” in 1975, it “wouldn’t become known outside the arts community for another three years.”

    By that he means they were not “published” until 3-years later: 1978.

  3. Why post yet another picture of prepubescent Brooke Shields. There’s enough traffic with the earlier items. No need to belabor this photographer and controversy. In fact, it seems improper for all obvious reasons to do so.

  4. […] Garry Gross (1937-2010) « Iconic Photos His name was well-known, even if it is whispered with muted distaste in photography and copyrights circles. His body of work is unknown, eclipsed by a single pictorial he undertook for American socialite Teri Shields. In 1975, Garry Gross scribbled his name into a dubious footnote in the history of photography by photographing a nude 10-year-old Brooke Shields. The photos of bejeweled soon-to-be-child-actress, in thick makeup and in a steaming, ornate bathtub, however, wouldn’t become known outside the arts community for another three years. […]

  5. for those that think this is child po*n…..it’s not. there has to be a sexual act.maybe if she fingered her vagina,that would be a bit different. i think pics of naked kids make some people uncomfortable.

    • the problem is that there is an obviously sexual element. she is wearing makeup, in an adult “sexy” pose. this isnt a little kid jsut playing in he tub. this is a child posed to look like an adult.

    • Absolutely agree with mark.
      I don’t really see the “obvious” sexual element.
      What one finds sexual is subjective, sexual act is not.

      And can’t see the “harm” with this image either.
      I think many people behave hysterically when they see child nudity when there is absolutely no reason to.

  6. I do not think this is child porn, because she is not showing her Vagina or pussy and her naked and her naked butt is not showing neither, I see her Nipples, but she has the chest of a boy and therefore this is not child porn, this is nothing but consensual Art of a Child.

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