Sam Shepard

image for Sam Shepard
Exhibition Label
One of the most gifted playwrights of his generation, Sam Shepard made his reputation exploring the dark underbelly of the American family. In plays such as Curse of the Starving Class (1976), Buried Child (1979)—which won the Pulitzer Prize for drama—and True West (1981) he probed the fractures and loneliness that pervade individuals and their family relationships. Shepard grew up in a strict military family; he dropped out of college and became involved in the off-off-Broadway theater scene. Influenced by the counterculture, his plays grapple with sin and redemption through a brutal lyricism. Shepard has also enjoyed a prolific film career as an actor and screenwriter—for Paris, Texas (1985) and Fool For Love (1984), among others—while his rugged western looks and laconic style hark back to Gary Cooper. In 1983, the year of this portrait, he was nominated for an Academy Award for his role as the pilot Chuck Yeager in The Right Stuff.
Brigitte Lacombe, born 23 Dec 1950
Sam Shepard, 5 Nov 1943 - 30 Jul 2017
Credit Line
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; gift of Brigitte Lacombe
See more items in
National Portrait Gallery Collection
1983 (printed 2012)
Object number
Sam Shepard: Male
Sam Shepard: Performing Arts\Performer\Actor\Theater
Sam Shepard: Performing Arts\Director\Motion Pictures
Sam Shepard: Performing Arts\Performer\Actor\Movie
Sam Shepard: Literature\Writer\Playwright
Sam Shepard: Literature\Writer\Screenwriter
Sam Shepard: Literature\Writer\Essayist
Sam Shepard: Performing Arts\Performer\Musician\Banjo
Sam Shepard: Pulitzer Prize
Archival pigment print
Image: 56.1 x 37.5 cm (22 1/16 x 14 3/4")
Sheet: 61.1 x 50.7 cm (24 1/16 x 19 15/16")
Mat: 71.1 x 55.9 cm (28 x 22")
National Portrait Gallery