Leonard Nimoy, who most sci-fi fans knew as the permanently ‘fascinated’ Mr Spock from the original Star Trek series and subsequent film franchise, died recently aged 83. Nimoy was in fact not only an actor, and writer, but an art collector, and patron of the arts, as well as a photographer.
Nimoy studied with photographer Robert Heinecken at UCLA, and the famous actor’s photography has been included in exhibitions at the Los Angeles Country Museum of Art, the New Orleans Museum of Art, the Bakersfield Museum in Bakersfield, California, the Jewish Museum in New York, the Museum of Fine Arts Houston, and the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art. Nimoy also published several books of photography, notably Shekhina in 2005 and The Full Body Project in 2007.
MASS MoCA showed an exhibition of his photography from 2010 to 2011, titled “Leonard Nimoy: Secret Selves.” The exhibition was inspired by Nimoy’s fascination with alternate identities, as seen in the photographer’s particularly Bacon-esque self-portrait above. The exhibition, was Nimoy’s first solo show at a museum, and featured 26 works of volunteers revealing their “secret selves” to the camera, “an intimate, sometimes humorous, and often profound new look at the residents of Northampton and the inner yearnings and fantasies that we all share,” as stated by the museum’s website.
Leonard Nimoy Shekhina series (Image courtesy of R.Michelson Galleries — www.RMichelson.com)
Nimoy was also a great supporter of emerging photographers, funding them from the Susan Bay Nimoy and Leonard Nimoy Foundation, The actor/photographer was also a devoted patron of and donator to arts institutions across the country. He and his wife had cultivated a decade-long relationship with the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles – which also owns several of the actor’s photographs – by supporting numerous artist projects, residencies, and exhibitions, including the museum’s emerging artist series, Hammer Projects.
Nimoy also a great orator and spoke at the Hammer on multiple occasions, on topics ranging from Jungian psychology and feminist photography to alternate identities. “I’m touched by the idea that when we do things that are useful and helpful – collecting these shards of spirituality,” Nimoy once said, “that we may be helping to bring about a healing.”
The actor sent a touching final tweet on the day of his death: “A life is like a garden. Perfect moments can be had, but not preserved, except in memory. LLAP.” So it turns out that the actor leaves behind many memories in the form of a lasting oeuvre of photography, a fact that was until recently unknown to many.