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Actor and Photographer Joel Grey: A New York Life

Joel Grey, Village Crossing, 2009
Joel Grey, Village Crossing, 2009

Tony and Academy Award-winning actor Joel Grey says that he has always taken pictures and collected photographs. He began showing them about 10 years ago at the encouragement of friends. In 2003 he released his first book of photographs, Pictures I Had to Take. He later published Looking Hard at Unexamined Things and 1.3: Images from My Phone.

In a 2009 interview with Gothamist, when asked what he looks for when taking photographs, he says:

It’s usually something I don’t quite understand. What is that? Look at that juxtaposition of color! Or, What was this once? I’m very interested in things that are weathered and beaten and show the beauty of broken things.

I think I’ve always wanted to be a painter, in truth. Very often, people have called my photographs painterly, and maybe that’s my answer to that need.

Next month, the Museum of the City of New York (MCNY) will present Joel Grey/A New York Life. MCNY says that Joel Grey/A New York Life “examines the enduring impact that performer and photographer Joel Grey and his adopted city have made on each other.” The exhibition will include posters, playbills, and costume pieces from Grey’s productions, combined with a selection of his New York City photographs. The exhibition opens April 12, 2011 and continues through August 8, 2011.

Grey’s work has been the subject of solo shows in New York, Los Angeles and Berlin. His photographs are part of the permanent collection of The Whitney Museum of American Art and the New York Public Library.

For more information about Joel Grey and his photography, visit

Visit the Pop Life Art homepage for links to the artwork of more than 100 actors, singers, and musicians.

Related blog post: The Billboard Papers: Photographs by Joel Grey (September 8, 2013)