Art Auction 2018 | Mel Roberts


Mel Roberts

Marilyn Dead
Chromogenic print, artist’s proof, 1962
14 x 11 inches
Value: $1,000
Starting bid: $500

Mel Roberts was born in Toledo, Ohio in 1923. After serving as a cameraman documenting World War II in the South Pacific, he became involved in the newly formed Mattachine Society, one of the earliest political organizations of the gay movement, and lived as an openly gay man. In the 1950s he found work as a model for the La Jolla Museum of Art before returning to Los Angeles as a director, cinematographer, and film editor for several Hollywood studios. Roberts bought his first still camera during this time, and began shooting his friends and lovers. His photographs were published widely in magazines across the US and Europe.

In 1977, and again in 1979, the Los Angeles Police Department raided Roberts’s home, seizing all of his negatives, prints, and cameras, and by 1981 he had decided to end his professional photography career. He died in 2007.

Selected collections
Palm Springs Art Museum
Michael H. Epstein and Scott E. Schwimer Collection
Sir Elton John

Selected exhibitions
Backyard Oasis: The Swimming Pool in Southern California Photography, 1945-1982, Palm Springs Art Museum, 2012
Mel Roberts: California Boys, The Erotic Museum, Los Angeles, 2004
Boys of Summer, ClampArt, New York, NY, 2003

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