In one photo, husband and wife are curled up on the couch, watching TV at home. In another, she’s mending a button on his shirt. In still others, their children are at play, climbing a tree or scattering dandelions in the wind.
But then there’s the photo of Richard and Mildred Loving sitting with their attorney. Daunting reality intervenes in the quiet moments of life and love in the 1965 photography of Grey Villet, who set out to document the day-to-day world of the Virginia couple who would later stand at the center of the 1967 Supreme Court ruling overturning state laws banning interracial marriage.
Richard and Mildred’s story, unfolding now on movie screens in “Loving” starring Joel Edgerton and Ruth Negga, plays out with a different voice in Villet’s black-and-white photos. Originally taken for Life magazine, the work can be seen soon at Photo L.A., running Jan. 12 to 15 at the Reef at the L.A. Mart in Los Angeles.
About 10 of Villet’s images will be exhibited by Monroe Gallery of Photography in Santa Fe. Co-owner Sidney Monroe said that Villet took the photos in ’65 but that Life chose not to publish them until after the Supreme Court decision. “And even then, they only published a couple,” Monroe said. “Most of these really have not been seen widely.”