Illinois State Library

Illinois Center for the Book

Individual Author Record

General Information

Name:  Art Shay  

Pen Name: None


Audience: Adult; Young Adult; Children; Children;

Born: in Bronx, New York

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Illinois Connection

Art lives in Chicago.

Biographical and Professional Information

Mr Shay has published some 60 books since coming to Illinois in 1948. A great friend of the famous Illinois writer Nelson Algren. He completed two books on his friend and their shared love of Chicago - ''Chicago's Nelson Algren''. Art worked first as a reporter where he had a weekly column in various papers and then as a photographer for numerous publications. He has published over 10,000 photographs in magazines including ''Life'', ''Fortune'' and ''Sports Illustrated.'' He has also written a play, ''Where Have You Gone, Jimmy Stewart'' that was produced by Chicago’s American Theater Company (ATC) in 2002 and also published several books on photography and sports.Shay also wrote a terrific autobiography "Album for an Age" and published two coffee table books with the University of Illinois press titled "Couples" and "Animals."

Published Works

  • Nelson Algren`s Chicago: Visions of Illinois, University of Illinois Press, 1988
  • Album for an Age, Ivan R. Dee, Inc., 2000
  • Animals, University of Illinois Press, 2002
  • Couples, Photographs by Art Shay, University of Illinois Press, 2003
  • Chicago's Nelson Algren, Seven Stories Press, 2007

Selected Titles At Your Library

Nelson Algren's Chicago /
ISBN: 025201586X. OCLC Number:

University of Illinois Press,. Urbana :. ©1988.

This is a photo essay of Chicago's underside. From 1949 to the mid-1960s, the collaborators frequented their favorite bars, poolrooms, missions, and courtrooms, mixing freely with hustlers addicts, pimps and ordinary hard-working people.

Album for an age :
ISBN: 1566633273. OCLC Number:

Ivan R. Dee,. Chicago :. 2000.

"In Album for an Age, Mr. Shay puts both his words and his pictures to work. The result is a delightful, entertaining, thoughtful, and sometimes wacky sightseeing tour of many of the major personalities and events of the last fifty years. "Daumier," he writes, "taught me to aim my predatory camera at the contumely, snobbery, pretensions, cruelty, and machinery of petty power." Some of it, though, he can't help liking; all of it he writes about with wit and insight. Here is a marvelously unconventional book by an unconventional photographer - not a picture book but a book with pictures."--Jacket.

Animals /
ISBN: 0252027426. OCLC Number:

University of Illinois Press,. Urbana :. ©2002.

"For thousands of years, humans have pondered the difference between themselves and other animals. "Reason," say some. "Souls," say others. More philosophical folk say, "Taxes." But few can dispute that animals - like humans, their cousins and neighbors - are among the most sublime wonders of the world we inhabit."

Couples /
ISBN: 0252028368. OCLC Number:

University of Illinois Press,. Urbana :. ©2003.

"In the 120 photographs in Couples, Shay shows us couples in love - walking, talking, kissing, embracing, dining, arguing - as well as many other pairings, human and non-human, whose relationship he has skillfully crystallized in a single instant of interaction.

Chicago's Nelson Algren /
ISBN: 1583227644. OCLC Number:

Seven Stories Press,. New York :. ©2007.

They met in 1949 when Art was a reporter for Life. Shay followed Algren around with a camera, gathering pictures for a photo-essay piece he was pitching to the magazine. Life didn’t pick up the article, but Shay and Algren became fast friends. Algren gave Shay’s camera entrance into the back-alley world of Division Street, and Shay captured Algren’s poetry on film. They were masters chronicling the same patch of ground with different tools. Chicago’s Nelson Algren is the compilation of hundreds of photos—many recently discovered and published here for the first time—of Nelson Algren over the course of a decade and a deeply moving homage to the writer and his city. Read Algren and you’ll see Shay’s pictures; look at Shay’s photos and you’ll hear Nelson’s words.


He has won some 20 Art Director Awards for distinguished photography.

Speaking Engagements

Speaking Engagement Availability (No)