Legendary photojournalist Robert Altman, born Oct. 10, 1944, passed away on or around Sept. 24, 2021, one month short of his 77th birthday, at his San Francisco home due to complications of his long battle with esophageal cancer, announced Altman’s press agent Lee Houskeeper of the News Services/San Francisco Stories agency.
• Robert Altman captured over 30,000 images, visually documenting everything from the Rolling Stone’s ‘Let It Bleed’ recording sessions to the ’60s counterculture and fashion in the ’70s.
Born and raised in the Bronx, New York, Altman attended Hunter College at the City University of New York. After graduation, Altman was taught photography by Ansel Adams, then moved to San Francisco, where he became entrenched as a fixture within the art community through continuously developing his work, befriending many as if they were family.
Cementing his roots in San Francisco, Altman shot the front page, full back cover, and inside spread for the then-underground rag Good Times. Altman later worked as Chief Staff Photographer for Rolling Stone Magazine, capturing iconic covers, notably Tina Turner, Dave Crosby, and Keith Richards. His former boss and founder, Editor, and Publisher of Rolling Stone Jan Wenner has said: “Robert Altman was instrumental in portraying the look and feeling and vitality of the Sixties.” When interviewed about his entrance to Rolling Stone, Robert replied, “So I took this photo of Peter Fonda and Rolling Stone saw it in a Magazine …” Later he recalled, “Baron Wolman is now like my older brother and dearest friend … I moved into that slot and became that Chief Staff photographer…” Serving between two other legendary photographers, Altman held this position at Rolling Stone from 1970 to 1973.
UC Berkeley acquired Altman’s work in 2018 to form the Robert Altman Photograph Archive, now living in the Bancroft Library, serving as primary research on the American West.