Coming to Prague with my family is always very special. My parents live here and I love coming back to see them. We have just spent a wonderful week here and as always, I was eager to see as many exhibitions and theatre performances as possible.

I went to the Prague House of Photography for the first time – The project in Revoluční Street 5 was first discussed in 2002. The generous plan of operating the new institution, which would mainly focus on presenting Czech, but also world photography, assumed a gallery space including its own depository, library, lecture hall and darkroom equipped for photography classes and workshops as well as other rooms for accompanying programmes.

We went to see a beautifully presented exhibition of Sam Shaw’s photographs.

American photographer and film producer Sam Shaw (1912–1999) created one of the most iconic images of the 20th century with Marilyn Monroe with the skirt of her white dress blowing over a subway grate during filming one of the scenes of The Seven Year Itch (1954) in New York. Sixty years later, it continues to captivate. Sam Shaw is internationally recognized for his photographs of films and movie stars (Woody Allen, Alfred Hitchcock, Elizabeth Taylor, Sophia Loren), but his archives include portraits of other famous people such as Marc Chagall, Marcel Duchamp, Arthur Miller and Tennesse Williams. Shaw’s work as a feature-film producer is lesser known; for example, he also worked closely with the director John Cassavetes, who is widely acknowledged to be the father of American independent cinema.

Molly Wallace, huntress and equestrian, Ireland, 1961

I loved in particular Sam Shaw’s photographs that he took before his career as a film photographer started.  He  became a reporter and photojournalist for Collier’s magazine for which he traveled around the United States documenting American life in the mid-twentieth century. These portraits of subjects ranging from coal miners and sharecroppers to burlesque performers and New Orleans’ musicians comprise Shaw’s “Americana” collection.

Sophia Loren rehearsing, The Pride and the Passion, Spain, 1957

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