Henry Kissinger and Pelé

by Lisl Steiner, New York 1967

Henry Kissinger and Pelé by Lisl Steiner, New York 1967

The famous photograph was taken in a locker room of the football club New York Cosmos in 1975. Because of her good contacts and her acquaintance with Pelé, Steiner got access to locations normally barred to women. The only woman present here in the mens locker room, she documented a warm embrace between two great personalities in a photograph. We have here the famous supporter of the club, Henry Kissinger, and on the other hand the world star Pelé, the first to bring a certain glamour to US football, a relatively unpopular sport at the time.

The photograph Steiner took with a Leica M3 and a 35mm wide-angle lens clearly shows the edges of the negative, with its perforations barely visible – less as a proof of the completeness of the shot, rather as a conscious stylistic decision.

Born in Vienna, Austria, Lisl Steiner emigrated to Buenos Aires with her family in 1938. She worked in the South American film industry before turning to photo journalism. As a reporter, she worked for Argentinean and Brazilian magazines, later also for The New York Times, Life and Time Magazines. From 1949 onwards, Steiner photographed many artists, musicians and other celebrities.


  • Anna Auer/Kunsthalle Wien (eds.), Übersee. Flucht und Emigration Österreichischer Fotografen 1920-1940, Vienna 1997, p. 222;
  • Interview with Lisl Steiner March 7th 2014.

Photo credit: © WestLicht Photographica Auction