© Jack Robinson, Found In A Closet: A Photo Trove Of ’60s Icons
#1: Portrait of Tina Turner, ca. 1969
#2: Self-Portrait, Jack Robinson, New Orleans, early 1950s
You never know what people are hiding. When Dan Oppenheimer opened the door to Jack Robinson’s apartment, for example, he had no idea what he’d discover. He knew that Robinson had been a photographer in an earlier chapter of his life that he rarely spoke of.
Oppenheimer, who had been Robinson’s boss at a stained-glass studio in Memphis, recalls that Robinson kept mostly to himself and had very few friends. Few people even knew he had died, which might explain why Oppenheimer found himself in this position to begin with: There was no one else to take care of the effects.
What Oppenheimer did find when he opened the doors was an immaculately tidy apartment with exactly one of everything: One plate, one bowl, one mug. Robinson only wore white shirts and jeans, Oppenheimer says, and his spare white buttons were meticulously organized by size. A few cameras were in a display case. Then he opened the closet.
“I opened this one box, and stacked down to the bottom was Elton John, Joni Mitchell, Jack Nicholson, The Who,” Oppenheimer says. “It became very obvious that this was no ordinary photographer.” Jack Robinson, it turned out, had been a commercial photographer in New York City — namely for Vogue — long enough to build an archive of some 150,000 prints of the most recognizable faces of the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s.