Celebrity photographer Douglas Kirkland is 81 years old, but he can still remember the details of his first major Hollywood assignment: photographing Marilyn Monroe for Look Magazine’s 25th anniversary special edition in 1962 (the publication at the time had a circulation of 7 million). “I grew up in Fort Erie,” Kirkland said during an interview on CBC Radio’s Q program, “and she was the superstar of superstars. I couldn’t believe they were giving me this assignment.” Since that photography session, which resulted in iconic portraits of Monroe nestled beneath a white silk bedsheet, Kirkland went on to document some of the century’s most recognizable faces, from Judy Garland to Audrey Hepburn, Elizabeth Taylor, and Coco Chanel.
Now, for the first time in his 50-year career, Kirkland is showing a dedicated collection of his celebrity portraits in Canada, at Toronto’s Izzy Gallery in Yorkville—a venue known for hosting the Canadian debuts of fashion industry icons, including Lillian Bassman and Bert Stern. “No one had asked Kirkland [to show in Canada before]” says Izzy Gallery owner Izzy Sulejmani. While Kirkland has been celebrated internationally (a September 2008 retrospective of his work was organized by Vanity Fair Italy at the museum La Triennale di Milano) this exhibit is his homecoming. Attendees can expect to be star-struck.