DALLAS -- Legendary retailer Stanley Marcus constantly snapped pictures: playful shots of his kids, photographs of famous friends in exotic locales or an elegant model at a Paris fashion show.
The images, which showcase Marcus’ keen sense of style, are featured in a new book compiled by his daughter and granddaughter and at an exhibit at the Dallas Museum of Art.
“We knew he had great taste,” said William Keyse Rudolph, who curated the museum exhibition, which opened in January and continues through March 30. “What we didn’t know was that he was making art.”
The images offer a glimpse into the life of the man whose family founded luxury retailer Neiman Marcus, a company where he had a nearly 50-year career.
One shot from 1965 shows Marcus’ son Richard fishing off the coast of Acapulco, Mexico. A straw hat and dark sunglasses shading his eyes, he is clad in a light-blue shirt and white pants as the ocean glistens behind him. In another from the 1950s, designer Emilio Pucci films Marcus as the retailer photographs him in Florence, Italy.
The photos are significant not only for their sometimes famous subject matter or depictions of a certain 1950s and 1960s cool, but also for their composition, Rudolph said.
One photo captures fashion photographer Elsbeth Juda leaning forward to view Mexico’s Teotihuacan Pyramids in 1957. “Her body is echoing the pyramids,” Rudolph said. “He waited for the right moment.”
About 10 years ago, Marcus called up his granddaughter, Allison V. Smith, to ask if she wanted his slides.
“He told me that if I didn’t take them, that they would go in the trash,” said Smith, a professional photographer. “I said, sure I’d take them.”
As Neiman Marcus began preparations for its 100th anniversary, Smith and her mother, Jerrie Marcus Smith, decided to publish a book of the photos. “Reflection of a Man: The Photographs of Stanley Marcus” was released exclusively to Neiman Marcus last fall and is set for wide release this month.
The book features 192 images from 1936 to 1971, while the museum exhibition shows 39 photos, most from the 1950s and 1960s.