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"David Bailey: Birth of the Cool"
2000-06-17 until 2000-09-17
Modern Museum
Stockholm, , SE

David Bailey has been one of the most famous British photographers over the last four decades. In Sweden he became best known as one of the hottest photographers of the early 1960s, the time that has been given the epithet Swinging London.

Bailey remembers that when he was growing up in the East End of London, he saw three alternatives for his future: to be a boxer, a trumpet player or a car thief. So he bought himself a trumpet and tried to play in the spirit of Chet Baker, but his trumpet was stolen in Singapore where he was doing his national service in the RAF. After losing this, Bailey became interested in photography and discovered the work of Henri Cartier Bresson. Inspired by these, Bailey bought a camera (a Rolleiflex copy, 6x6) in 1957. He soon realised that although one could be taught the techniques of photography,the ability to create images and imbue them with imagination comes from within oneself.

Like others in his generation, Bailey poured over Life Magazine. After finishing his national service in 1958, he got a job with David Olin, who was then the main supplier of photos to Queen Magazine. After that he became an assistant to the fashion photographer, John French, in London. In 1960 Bailey was 22 years old and already was working as a free lancer for British Vogue. His name quickly became as well known as the people he photographed: the fashion designer, Mary Quant, and everyone who was involved in Bazaar, on the King's Road, the photographer, Bill Brandt, and also the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, The Who and singers like Marianne Faithfull and Sandie Shaw. Other subjects included actresses such as Mia Farrow, Catherine Deneuve, Geraldine Chaplin, Sarah Miles, Jeanne Moreau, Julie Christie, Virginia McKenna and actors like Peter Sellers and Michael Caine. Bailey also photographed the period's current fashions on the streets of London or New York for magazines like American Vogue or Glamour. The Shrimp or Jean Shrimpton, Marisa Berenson, Penelope Tree and Twiggy were some of the models that came in front of his motor-driven camera eye. During the 1960s Bailey became Vogue's foremost photographer. On one occasion he said: I wanted to be like Fred Astaire, but I couldnīt, so instead I went for the next best thing, which was to be a fashion photographer.

David Bailey was not only part of an epoch but was one of its most dynamic constituents. His original style was not static - modelled, like Irving Penn's - but more mobile, like Richard Avedon's. Bailey's work moves from still studio pictures via fashion photos in a landscape to street photography r la William Klein and Robert Frank. The photographs were often graphically powerful with high contrasts between lighter values and darker tones. Where other photographers stood on the side and observed, Bailey went directly into the centre of the action. His portraits documented the personalities of the period and made them into icons of their time. This is a National Museum of Photography Film & Television Touring Exhibition in Collaboration with the Barbican Art Gallery Curator: Leif Wigh

David Bailey
Andy Warhol, 1965

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