Will McBride

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Will McBride (January 10, 1931 – January 29, 2015)) born in St. Louis, Missouri is a famous photographer, painter and sculptor.

McBride grew up in Chicago and studied at the University of Vermont, the Art Institute of Chicago, and finally graduated from Syracuse University in 1953. He also took private lessons from Norman Rockwell. McBride served in the U.S. Army from 1953 to 1955 and was stationed in Germany, where he decided to live as an expatriate artist. He later became a German citizen.

McBride rose to fame in the 1950s and 1960s as a documentary photographer for various German magazines. A controversial artist, he illustrated with pictures of young boys and girls the sex education book Show Me! (1975). The book, was initially received positively by educators in Europe and North America. Nevertheless, the change in the attitudes toward depictions of naked boys coupled with the prevailing hysteria over child sexual abuse, led the authorities in the United States to ban this book in the 1980s.

As Joseph Geraci notes, McBride's work "has the gritty, involved quality of 50s photographers such as Klein and van der Elsken. Their aesthetic was to break down the barrier between subject and artist, for the artist to become 'engaged' as was being argued by Sartre and the French Existentialists."[1]

McBride's photographs of boys, and especially of his favorite model Uli Hager whom McBride photographed between the ages of 10 and 16, have this "engaged" aesthetic. McBride gets quite intimate with his models. As he stated himself: " I am very interested in boys. Let there be no doubt about that [but] I don't make love to boys, I make pictures and sculptures of them, a different way of loving...".(1)

In 2004 McBride received the Dr. Erich Salomon Prize, which is bestowed by the German Photographic Association (Deutsche Gesellschaft für Photographie) and is the equivalent of a Nobel Prize for photography.

McBride's monographs

  • Adenauer (Berlin: Josef Keller, 1965)
  • The Sex Book: A Modern Pictorial Encyclopaedia (London: Herder & Herder, 1971)
  • Show Me (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1975)
  • Foto-Tagebuch (Berlin: Frolich & Kaufmann, 1982)
  • Siddhartha (Kehl on Rhine: Swan Verlag, 1982)
  • Boys (Munich: Bucher, 1988)
  • Zeig mal mehr! (Weinheim: Beltz, 1988), with text by Frank Herrath and Uwe Sieler.
  • Situationen/Projekten/Ein Fotobuch (Aachen: Rimbaud, 1992)
  • Will McBride (Frankfurt/Main: Editions Stemmle, 1992)
  • My Sixties (Cologne: Taschen, 1994)
  • I, Will McBride (Cologne: Könemann, 1997)
  • Coming of Age (Millerton, NY: Aperture, 1999), with an introductory essay, "Ways of Being Human," by Guy Davenport.
  • Mein Italien (Munich: Knesebech Verlag, 2003)


(1) Will McBride, I, Will McBride (Cologne: Könemann, 1997)

External links